We thought it would be interesting to look at women’s football in SW France, ahead of the men’s European Football League season.
Ian Jefferies, owner and co-founder of Sancheng Digital also manages the Toulouse Business Exchange and is a keen promoter of football and rugby. He met up with Camille Naude, Toulouse based footballer and businesswoman, to find out more about the development of the sport in France and sends us this report.
PSG v Arsenal
Since starting football as a schoolgirl in the late 1990’s, Camille has witnessed significant progress in both professional and grass-roots junior football.
Long before the women’s World Cup was created in 1991, Reims won the first national French football championships with goal scorer Anne O’Brien, a 17 year old Irish footballer, in 1975. In 2019, Olympique Lyonnais won the French championships and, thanks to a hat-trick of goals from Ada Hegerberg, also won the European Champions League. Hegerberg featured on the front page of “L’Equipe” and competed in this year’s World Cup for her native Norway.
Increased media coverage is inspiring young girls, and regional clubs are now forming girl’s and women’s sides, with other local initiatives also raising participation. The French Football Federation’s nationwide promotion, “La Feminisation du Football”, also aims to increase participation and improve facilities.
Camille is a key organisational member of the Women’s French Cup (WFC), an annual competition giving top European ladies’ teams meaningful games to prepare their League and European Cup seasons. It also seeks to inspire the next generation of female players.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City are amongst the professional teams that have participated. This year, Chelsea, Montpellier, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain will compete on 6 and 8 August at Stade Michel-Bendichou, Colomiers.
In the lead-up, girls aged 7 to 14 from local clubs will spend a week training with and learning from top class football coaches and players as part of the WFC Academy programme. Organisers hope that some will go on to be the O’Brien’s and Hegerberg’s of the future, and, whatever their destiny, that all the girls will have a heightened sense of ambition and self-confidence.
Participation in football at any level is scientifically proven to bring a whole range of benefits including improved cardiovascular health, reduced susceptibility to osteoporosis, diabetes and other chronic diseases, and increased social interaction. Most importantly kicking a ball about with your friends is just good fun! Why not give women’s football in SW France a go?
First published in the July/August 2019 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Sancheng Digital and Shutterstock