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Thatcham Tornadoes girls have high hopes for women’s football after England’s Lionesses Euro win



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“My hope is to turn on the telly and be able to just see women’s football as normal,” said 14-year-old Emily Pike after England’s historic win at Wembley Stadium on the weekend.

Along with 17 million others, Emily tuned in to watch the Lionesses beat Germany 2-1 on Sunday with her mother, Thatcham Tornadoes coach Kate Pike.

Much like her daughter, Mrs Pike enjoyed football as a child and played in her father’s team at 12-years-old while living in the Netherlands.

Mrs Pike playing in the Netherlands. Picture credit: Kate Pike
Mrs Pike playing in the Netherlands. Picture credit: Kate Pike

“I came back home [to the UK] and there was no girls football here,” she said.

Mrs Pike continued to play later in life, starting with her university team. She played from the age of 18 to 36 with Kent University, Bath Spa and finally with Newbury Ladies.

She now coaches with Thatcham Tornadoes, which has around 160 female players, and said she has seen the “positive impact” the sport has on young girls.

Kate Pike now with the Thatcham Tornadoes U15 girls and assistant coach Dave Morris. Photo credit: Jon Harrison
Kate Pike now with the Thatcham Tornadoes U15 girls and assistant coach Dave Morris. Photo credit: Jon Harrison

Mrs Pike said: “Thinking back to 30 years ago for me, no girls really played locally.”

She called “madness” that the FA banned women’s football for 50 years in 1921.

“I didn’t know the history of it but that’s just madness isn’t it? It’s just a sport. I don’t know why there shouldn’t be equal access for all,” she said.

“The [Euro’s] was just amazing," she continued.

Kate playing, under the name Kate Smith, with her university football team in Kent. Picture credit: Kate Pike
Kate playing, under the name Kate Smith, with her university football team in Kent. Picture credit: Kate Pike

"It made me so emotional to see the spirit, all the build-up and the coverage.

“I mean, I could see people talking about it on my Facebook feed. It was amazing to finally see that.”

The recent surge in game attendance and viewing figures for women’s games has recently been called a ‘turning point’ for the sport.

Thatcham Tornadoes U15 girls with manager and coach Kate Pike and assistant coach Dave Morris. Photo credit: Jane Whiteman
Thatcham Tornadoes U15 girls with manager and coach Kate Pike and assistant coach Dave Morris. Photo credit: Jane Whiteman

Mrs Pike, who has been coaching with the Thatcham club for seven years, said: “We are seeing the Lionesses now, they are more visible.

“They’re confident in their own skin, they can be who they want to be.

“When you think about social media and what girls will see of women, you hope that it is strength and confidence.

“You can see that in [the Lionesses]. You can see their friendship and warmth as a team.”

Looking forward, she said one of the most important things for girls is accessibility.

“I hope now is that we build on this. I want girls football at school to be a normal thing. I want them all to be able to experience it.

“Most girls get to secondary school and have not had a chance to know if they even like [football] or not.”

“We need to see it on our screens, young girls will see it and think ‘I can do this’.”



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