OPINION

England’s amazing women could be even better with a more diverse pool of talent

Posted On 16 Jul 2022 at 12:30 am

Unusually for me, I’ve recently become sports obsessed. Or more particularly, football obsessed. Or more particularly still, Women’s Euro obsessed.

Watching matches, checking results, trying to work out who will go through in what group position, and might end up playing who next etc.

I was incredibly fortunate to have been offered a seat at the Amex for the England v Norway game on Monday – and what a game it was!

Looking at the previous history of the teams, the odds looked overwhelmingly in Norway’s favour. They’d won 13 of 21 previous encounters, against England’s 5.

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Of course, having a home crowd can help cause an upset, and anything can happen on the night. But we really didn’t envisage a spectacular 8-0 victory to the Lionesses and watched in amazement as goal after goal thumped into Norway’s net.

One thing that marred my enjoyment somewhat though – and has seemed a glaringly obvious difference from top-level men’s football in England in recent years – was the lack of diversity in our national team.

Every player on the pitch was white – maybe less surprising in the Norwegian team, but England, really? It was jarring.

There were three black players in the dugout but although England did make five substitutions during the game, these players remained on the bench.

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I know substitutions are made for a whole range of complicated reasons and certainly can’t be made just for the sake of optics but it really didn’t feel right.

Around a third of male Premier League players are black and approximately half the male players capped for England.

With the women’s team, not only is it woefully less, the numbers are going down from where they were a decade ago – only 7 per cent during 2019-20.

There are multiple reasons for this lack of diversity, many connected to the smaller investment in the women’s game.

For example, there are fewer top training facilities, and many are in suburban or rural areas, making it much harder for urban black or working-class young players to reach them and leading the women’s game to become more middle-class.

The FA apparently recognises there’s a problem and has a plan, with ambitious targets on this and other issues and – not taking anything away from the team who played so brilliantly against Norway – let’s hope they produce results.

Because not only do we need a team that represents how our country looks, just think of the talent we must be missing out on from our inner cities.

Councillor Amanda Evans is the deputy leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Jason Reply

    Diversity, diversity, diversity.

    CHANGE THE RECORD.

    If the players are good enough, what does it matter whether they’re White black or green?

    People are becoming thoroughly sick of this endless anti-White RACISM.

  2. Stuart Reply

    And the other teams in the tournament? Why less surprising than the Norway team? “How fortunate I was offered a seat” has more to do with non-diversity. What a ludicrous piece of biased writing

  3. Tom Lines Reply

    Cllr Evans says she’s new to football, and unfortunately it shows. Men’s football in England has been strikingly diverse for many years. And even if it was not evident in the team against Norway, the England women’s team has been notably diverse during its recent rise up the ranks. The most successful players have included Eniola Aluko (with 102 caps), Nikita Parris (65), Alex Scott (140) and Rachel Yankey (129).

    Meanwhile, Fara Williams, who tops the player rankings with an astonishing 172 caps, played for six years while homeless – including some of her international career. That is an extraordinary achievement in itself.

  4. Up at the Crack of Dawn Reply

    Perhaps Cllr Evans should look closer to home. How many black players are on the squad for Team Labour in Brighton and Hove?

    Looking at the Labour councillors in the city I see an eclectic mix of white middle-class people.

    Physician, heal thyself.

    • Jane L Reply

      I wish this councilor would get replaced by a black councillor. One that would be good at and interested in dealing with stopping the demise of the City.

  5. Hove Guy Reply

    So, if there are fewer top training facilities, and many are in suburban or rural areas, as Amanda Evans claims, perhaps she should explain why so many successful male players are black? Surely the same facilities are, or should be, offered to the female ones? Instead of moaning about it, Amanda Evans should find out.
    Also, the best performers should be selected, regardless of colour or ethnic background.

    • Nathan Adler Reply

      The best players played and got a result the colour of their skin is irrelevant, (as others have noted some of England’s greatest players were not white). If this marred Councilor Evans enjoyment she needs a reality check and to try ro stop looking at division where it dies not exist.

  6. Nick Reply

    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones! Some of the current crop of Labour councillors are not good – particularly the newer ones. Yet, did Labour choose well from a diverse pool. Looks not, well at least by the 100% white results.

    Labour nationally have decided this is an issue – and taken away choices from local activists. Let’s hope that will get us a better selection and hopefully remove some of the poor current choices.

    Perhaps this councillor is volunteering as they have drawn attention to this Labour weakness again. Both an issue locally and nationally – something very clear when you look at the Tory PM candidates. It is embarrassing. As the councillor says, “Because not only do we need a team that represents how our country looks, just think of the talent we must be missing out on from our inner cities.”

    Indeed.

  7. mart Burt Reply

    I am surprised at Amanda’s article that indicates a racist element.
    No matter what COLOUR their skin, they are all Women Footballers who have achieved a high standard to be representing their and our country.
    Just because the eleven selected to start the game were white and eleven white players finished is irrespective.
    It may not feel right to you, but knowing the history of the team and the depth of the squad might change your racist implied comments. This is a tournament with 23 players or so, they can’t all play and they can’t all be a substitute, it’s a team game.
    England squads have produced many talented women footballers, some of them happen to be non white but they are all the same ‘Women Footballers’ There’s no Black or White. Do some research before spouting your personal feelings and please remember we want to stamp out racism in sports and your comments do little to improve that.

  8. Andy Reply

    She ought to look at how many minorities are in the Shadow Cabinet versus the Conservatives before opening her big mouth … And the same with the make-up of B&H council.
    She’s clearly ignorant as well as a hypocrite.

  9. AO Reply

    So the team could be even better? Better than winning by such a large margin? Why can’t you just celebrate a win? Why does everything have to have a woke agenda?

  10. Gary Gibbon Reply

    I think all this promotion of people for their colour and not their merit has gone too far now.
    We want best person for the job based on their ability not colour.

  11. Martyn Warriner Reply

    “Half of the Enland team are black”, “athird of professional footballers are black”. Whilst 13% of the British population are black. You make no mention of Asians or any other ethnic diversity bar black. What about sexuality preference? You mention none of this. By your thinking of excluding many many others within your tripe piece of journalism makes you a racist, ageist, homophobic and many other ‘ism’ or ‘ist’. You only state the most visual difference…….again showing differences between this one human race. I’m assuming, and I may be assuming incorrectly that you are fairly well paid being that you work in journalism. So why didn’t you give up your ticket for one of the people that you state are being so unfairly excluded? You said that you wasn’t even a football fan. Yes you say you have become one (now that women are fairly put in the limelight, but not when those men were). You could’ve made a beautiful gesture and sacrificed your ticket for perhaps a refugee that would most unlikely get to see the game and start a new exciting journey. Unfortunately not, you used your ticket to bash people doing well by making out that ethically they shouldn’t all be there.

    • Nick Reply

      the person who wrote this isn’t a journalist. They are the deputy leader of the Labour group on Brighton Council. Scary isn’t it!

      • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

        Suggest she gets a new hat. It’s tall and pointed and has a large letter ‘D’ on the front.

  12. Paul Temple Reply

    Blimey I bet Councilor Evans wishes she had thought about what she was saying, (and even done some basic research), before saying it. Not a single comment of support here or on facebook. Looks like everyone apart from Amanda is happy to support the English team no matter what their ethnic background rather than look for divisions within society that simply do not exist.

  13. Punter23 Reply

    Blimey! What a silly harpy.

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