– It is time to give women's football more space and attention

– It is time to give women's football more space and attention

It has now been half a year since the so-called World Cup fade-out, during which the Norwegian women's national team had to board a plane home to Norway. Many of us were disappointed. Never before has Norwegian women's football received so much international attention, and never before has interest in the team been greater. However, we did not perform when it mattered most.

Today, optimism has returned. Bran will meet Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals. The Norwegian women's national team retained its place in Group A in the qualifiers for the new tournament, the start of the series in Toppseren. Once again, we have the opportunity to put Norwegian football on the map. But in practice, we run the risk of being outcompeted by countries that invest much more heavily in women's football than we have managed to achieve so far in Norway.

If we look at the clubs that dominate the women's side in Europe, there is no doubt that the greater investment is paying off on both a sporting and commercial level. Both the Women's Champions League and the English Premier League are set to become commercial-heavy concepts.

More money provides the basis for developing better players, which provides better financial resources, which in turn creates characters and role models. Role models recruit supporters, who in turn fill the stands. This is the positive spiral we must create, but Norwegian football, Norwegian sponsors and Norwegian TV houses must continue to take aggressive and necessary actions.

UEFA figures show women's football is the sport with the fastest growing fan base in Europe. In addition, a third of fans are 'new' supporters, who are not already fans of men's football. In isolation, women's football is considered the fastest growing sport in the world. And if that wasn't enough: three of the most visited football matches (in the world) in 2022 were all women's matches. They played at Wembley and Camp Nou.

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Athletic success and strong personal profiles are one of the most important recruitment factors. The progress of women's football gives more girls a reason to pursue what they love: football. Without role models and a dream to invest in, the path to other activities is short. Therefore, the work being done in Norwegian football around educating more female managers and collectively gaining knowledge about health and what it takes to get to the top of the world is very important. But we must do much more than that.

We at Thon Hotels see that the efforts towards Norwegian women's football are achieving positive results. That is why we are an important partner of Toppserien and the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF), where the focus is, among other things, on the education of female coaches and managers. We do this not just because we think it's important, but because we see it works.

But if business is to open its wallets further, football itself must invest more in women. Norwegian women's football simply must get a bigger share of the pie. This applies to everything from finances, adapted training facilities, stadiums and training times, to trained coaches. It is a collective responsibility for all of football, from clubs to departments. This will increase the chance that Toppserien and the women's national team will become commercially valuable television products. If that happens, the total money allocated to Norwegian football will increase, and this will be an investment for the future.

We will therefore challenge our partners and good friends in and around football to join forces with existing sponsors to promote widespread investment in Norwegian women's football in the coming years. We can learn from each other and cooperate to a greater extent. Vision creates growth, and growth creates more vision. Let's call it a charity to raise money in Norwegian women's football.

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There are many people doing tremendous work to raise the level of Norwegian women's football. You are not the one who should be convinced. TV 2 and NRK together with several media partners contribute to attracting interest. The Norwegian Football Association has launched many good and exciting initiatives that will have an impact over time. But maybe we should learn a little from Barcelona and other top European clubs. And dare to think bigger.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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