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  • Writer's pictureBethany Barker

World Cup: 100 days to go

Important kit changes, a nerve-wracking penalty shootout and a difficult night to help the Lionesses learn important lessons before the summer

Wednesday 12th April 2023

 

With the world cup coming up this summer here's a recap of the Lionesses' International break with just under 100 days to go till their first game against Haiti


3rd April

Kit release: White shorts are out Navy shorts in

To start the International break Nike released their new kits for the summer's world cup, England were amongst the teams who made changes to improve the players' confidence on the pitch surrounding period concerns. The home and away kits will both have blue shorts with the 'traditional' all-white home kit being scrapped which was praised by Manchester City forward, Lauren Hemp, "This is a massive step in the right direction and Nike have taken a lot from our discussions in the past to make it real now." She added, "..we can now feel comfortable when sometimes we might not have been if it was your time of the month." The new shorts will also feature leak-protection lining which was introduced as a response to athlete feedback. Chelsea defender, Niamh Charles added that "It's massively progressive for the women's game that we are now just talking about it like it's normal and we are ok to change things and not just saying get on with it."

The changes in many teams' kits were first seen in the WSL in October 2022 when Manchester City moved from white to burgundy shorts as Puma responded to their athletes' concerns hoping it would allow them to perform at their highest level. Puma was the first manufacturer to respond to these concerns after female footballers have been asking for the ban of white shorts with no acknowledgement, however during the 2022 Euros, Arsenal forward Beth Mead voiced her concerns saying the all-white kit was "not practical when it's the time of the month." Over in the NWSL- national women's soccer league- Orlando Pride followed suit when they ditched the white shorts in March 2023 for black shorts. Their midfielder, Erika Tymrak stated, "I think it's a big step for us as a club to make players feel more comfortable and allow us to focus solely on competing".

Alongside England, New Zealand will also swap their home kit's white shorts for blue in this Summer's campaign in which they will co-host the tournament.

It is hoped that the changes made by these clubs and the statements made by their players will inspire more women's teams to consider the small changes that will help their players' basic requirements when playing to reduce the added pressure when playing.


England legacies return:

During the Lionesses training camp over sixty former Lionesses, including Jill Scott and Carly Telford, were recognised with their legacy numbers as part of the 50th-anniversary celebration which has seen every player to have represented the Lionesses since 1972 through to the most recent receive their cap. Starting with Sue Beckett through to the most recent debutant Katie Robinson, celebrating 227 players.

Kay Cossington, who is the head of women’s technical for the FA stated, “All 227 players are valued members of the England family and we hope they can reflect with pride on being part of a small group of women who have transformed football and made an everlasting impact on society."


6th April

Finalissima: Another trophy for England

More than 83,000 people were in attendance at Wembley last Thursday as the Lionesses lifted the Women's Finalissima trophy beating Brazil- who are the Copa America champions- on a nerve-wracking night.

As the whistle blew at 90 minutes the teams drew 1-1; after an opening goal (23 minutes) from Ella Toone, a disallowed goal from Lauren James- due to Lucy Bronze being offside- and a few missed passes from England an equaliser in injury time from Alves levelled the game. The game was taken to penalties which saw England win 4-2 after amazing saves from Mary Earps and after Chloe Kelly's winning shot the Lionesses added another title to their list.



11th April

Lionesses vs Matildas: 30 games unbeaten comes to an end in a tough game

The Lionesses' latest game was one of adversity when the Matildas tormented the English defence through Sam Kerr and Charlotte Grant who both scored against the normally challenging England defensive.

This defeat was unfamiliar territory for the European champions who had won their last thirty games under Sarina Weigman who stated the game was, "A big learning game against a very physical and well-organised Australian side. We had a lot of possession and created some things but struggled to speed up the game and stretch them. We made some mistakes."

With this only being the third time this team has trailed under Weigman throughout a thirty-one game run which has delivered four trophies it could be seen as a wake-up call and a learning curve for the team after a game where they were "lacking ideas" as stated by captain Leah Williamson who also added that "to lose, it gives you a bit of fire".

However, the defeat aside this match was a friendly which saw the teams work alongside the Alzheimer's Society in order to raise awareness of the symptoms of dementia; both teams had shirts with three players missing their names on the back to represent that 1 in 3 people born in the UK will develop the disease.


World Cup aims:

Organisers of the world cup are on course to sell a record-breaking 1.5 million tickets with Fifa's secretary general- Fatma Samoura- stating their mission is to, "organise the biggest and best Women's World Cup in history.." by not only upping ticket sales but attracting a global television audience. With Australia's opening match already moved to a bigger venue due to ticket demands it is clear that Fifa's mission could be closer to happening than ever before.

This is the ninth edition of the Women's World Cup which has already been expanded to include thirty-two countries and will have sixty-four matches played across ten different venues. After the growth of the women's game from the 2022 Euros the ever-present teams such as the United States, Germany, Sweden, Norway etc will be gearing up to lead the tournament alongside the European champions England who will hopefully be among the ones to watch.


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