Wales boss Gemma Grainger hopes women’s game capitalises on heightened interest after Euro 2022
Gemma Grainger has said that Wales will benefit from more attention for women’s international football in the UK as a result of Euro 2022 being hosted and won by England, but said that they are very much focused on their own journey.
Wales, who have not yet qualified for a major women’s tournament, will secure a 2023 World Cup play-off spot by taking four points from their final two qualifiers next month.
A record crowd – over 8,500 tickets have already been sold – is already guaranteed for the final fixture with Slovenia at Cardiff City Stadium, with interest in the women’s game in Wales reaching new heights.
“Without doubt the Euros has massively transformed the visibility of women’s football in the UK,” head coach Grainger told the PA news agency while speaking on behalf of M&S Food’s Eat Well, Play Well campaign at a grassroots session in Barry.
“Look at the television figures and the crowds, it’s huge for women’s football.
“But England are on their journey, and we are very much on our journey with the investment we have made as an association to the national team.
“We want to be a team that qualifies and competes in tournaments, and it’s important we do what’s right for our country.
“The legacy of the Euros has to be the visibility of the women’s game and how we capitalise on that interest.
“We have to make sure we use that opportunity to grow the game.”
Middlesbrough-born Grainger said that she felt huge pride at England’s Euros triumph having coached so many of Sarina Wiegman’s players during her 11 years at the Football Association.
And she is excited by what the Lionesses’ success means for the development of the Women’s Super League and how Wales can tap into that future.
“The WSL and the Championship are arguably two of the best domestic leagues in the world,” Grainger said.
“To have that on our doorstep is a competitive advantage, and I think the league will get better because the investment will get better off the back of the Euros.
“The biggest thing we saw from Euros was the commercialism and marketability of the game.
“The sponsors invested into the game seeing how strong it is.
“Having 87.000 people there with no segregation of fans shows the differences in the game (to the men’s game).
“The women’s game has got some unique differences, a real difference to the target audience.
“When people see their teams playing in the WSL this season we’ll see that diversity in the crowd.”
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