Portsmouth insists: England Lionesses for the win as they break the glass ceiling for women's football

ENGLAND’S ‘Lionesses’ have brought the women's football game to the next level by reaching the finals of Euro 2022, say former Pompey players – who are now bracing themselves for a surge of interest in the game from girls in the city.

The UEFA Euro Women's Championship finals, which will take place on Sunday against Germany, could be the turning point in women's football.

The sessions, which are part of Pompey in the Community’s girl and women football development programme, have become increasingly popular over the last few years as they are inclusive within the sport.

All the participants and their coaches at Park Community School, Leigh Park, Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

Kirsty Pearce, a former player on Pompey women’s team who now runs development programme, said: ‘For me, I think it is only going to go further, obviously I have been part of the game for a long time and the change is massive.

‘The female game is a lot more accessible because these girls here can actually meet their role models if they want to and it is a lot more elitist for the men's games.’

The former Pompey and Reading player said the development programme has 64 girls in the junior programme and approximately 70 girls in the after school scheme.

She said the transition has seen women’s football gain a bigger audience than ever before. The current Women's Pompey Football team have also seen the impacts of the football inclusivity as they had their highest audience at a friendly match with Brighton on July 25, with 2,906 attending the game.

Tamsin de Bunsen at Park Community School, Leigh Park, Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Kirsty added: ‘The whole nation is beyond proud. They have done themselves and they have done the nation proud and there is way more still to go.

‘I just think it shows just how far it has come and I have seen that transition over the years.’

The girls that attend the Pompey in the Community sessions are aspiring footballers, many of which train a few times a week and play in tournaments.

Pictured: Girls playing football at Park Community School, Leigh Park, Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

Elsie Mundey, nine, will be watching the Lionesses on Sunday with her family and said: ‘Be strong. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, at least you took part.’

Tamsin de-Bunsen, who has just finished at Pompey this past season, said that it is a brilliant move towards inclusivity within the game.

She voiced her struggles while at school and how there were still old fashioned traditions in place surrounding the game.

Tamsin said: ‘I would say to the England women's team that they have done the nation proud and it is an exciting time for women in football.

Kirsty Pearce at Park Community School, Leigh Park, Portsmouth Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘To get to the final and then win would be amazing. It inspires these girls and they are already saying how excited they are for Sunday.’

Yesterday the Lionesses were given a warm welcome as their appeared outside their hotel in southwest London ahead of Sunday’s historic clash.

‘We want to inspire the nation. I think that's what we're doing,’ said head coach Sarina Wiegman, ‘And we want to make a difference, so we hope that we got everyone so enthusiastic and that at the end the whole country is proud of us and that even more girls and boys will start playing football.’