Sunderland WFC celebrate

Building on Olympic legacy

by Stuart Vose

The womens' game has a unique opportunity to build on the legacy of the London Olympics.

The profile of womens’ football has never been higher following Team GB’s bid for medals at the London Olympics.

Hope Powell’s side were eventually eliminated in the quarter-finals by Canada having won all three group games without conceding a goal.

A 3-0 win over Cameroon sandwiched single-goal victories over New Zealand and a heavily-fancied Brazil side featuring Marta, considered to be the best female footballer in the world.

They met their match against a Canadian side boasting striker Christine Sinclair, who has an incredible 189 international caps and 143 goals to her name at the age of just 29.

But senior figures will be hoping that the Olympic campaign is about more than just results.

GB’s clash with Brazil pulled a crowd of 70,584 at Wembley – obliterating the previous UK women’s record of 53,000, set 92 years ago.

The other three games all attracted crowds in excess of 24,000 and were shown on TV to millions around the world.

The newly-created WSL (Women’s Super League) is approaching its second season with an ever-growing web of supporting leagues underneath.

And it is hoped that the Olympic campaign – although ultimately unsuccessful – will spark even more interest in the women’s game, with GB’s progress certainly doing so on Wearside.

Two members of the GB squad, Steph Houghton and Jill Scott, hail from the region, with both having previously played for Sunderland WFC.

Houghton in particular made a big splash, showing her attacking prowess by scoring in all three group games while also putting in solid defensive performances to help earn her side a trio of clean sheets.

Her former club, managed by Mick Mulhern, are dominating the National Premier League, the second tier of English women’s football in the UK.

Sunderland WFC have taken the league title in each of the last two seasons, adding a League Cup last season to secure a domestic double.

They have been inspired by the goals of young striker Beth Mead, who filled the net on a regular basis last season and surely isn’t far away from international recognition.

But they have a whole host of other stars, too, who will hoping to drive the club forward onto bigger and better things.

And if they can leverage the pull of the Olympics and gather a few more fans along the way, all the better.

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