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COMMENT: Congratulations to England for winning the European Football Championships – now let's pursue the government for more grassroots funding

Thursday, 4th August

Euston Lionesses England

A mural on Euston Road celebrates England’s Euros triumph after a tournament that put women’s football in the spotlight [Simon Lamrock]

CONGRATULATIONS to the England team for their glorious triumph in the final of the European Football Championships on Sunday.

Their victory touched even those yet to be convinced by the power and emotion of the beautiful game.

As a newspaper, we are proud to have been there at the start, one of the few local newspapers – or any newspaper for that mention – to champion women’s football.

Catherine Etoe, appointed by our co-founder Eric Gordon, was one of the first women sports editors in the country and we are proud of the part she played in raising the profile of the game – sometimes in lonely press boxes.

We figured readers had probably many outlets to get the neverending, frothy updates about the men’s game.

This newspaper instead felt it could offer something different and of value, by telling the stories of hard-working players who are now regarded as the pioneers who laid the foundations for the Euros success.

On Sunday, the press acted as if it had been interested all along. At such a time of national celebration and pride in what has been achieved, now isn’t the time to be too unkind to the Johnny-Come-Latelys.

Instead, let’s challenge them to stick with it. To not see the women’s game as an afterthought.

Do we really need an internet choked by endless rumours about which man is or isn’t due to get a transfer worth millions of pounds?

It would be better if our most influential football journalists would pursue the government to come good on the always-tomorrow prospects of more grassroots funding and expansion of access to a sport which – like it or not, rugby lovers – is ingrained in the beat of every weekend.

It’s always easy to say a lack of investment is at the heart of everything, however.

Now is also the time for all of those enthused by the tournament winners to take further steps. In our area, there is a perfect opportunity to transfer the couch cheers into a more solid support.

One of the most entertaining teams is just up the road. Arsenal, of course, is the home of golden boot winner Beth Mead and England captain Leah Wiliamson. Let’s claim this as success forged in north London and if you’re looking for a team to support, you could do a lot worse than getting behind the Gunners.

The fear can only be that the trophy lift on Sunday will be too easily lost to a moment in time when the Premier League, with all its grotesque excesses, begins again tomorrow (Friday) night.

Will this endless circus be a killer distraction to the claims that? Possibly. But rest assured, it will always be central to our sports coverage.

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