Football for all – Rotherham want to build on success at Euro 2022

Rotherham aims to use the success of hosting the Euro 2022 games to increase the number of women in the city.

New York’s Millers Stadium hosted three Group D games and a quarter-final between France and the Netherlands, and the city took a solid part in the tournament.

There were many visitors to all four games, and local residents also used the fan park in the city center.

England’s advance to the final, where they play Germany on Sunday, has also boosted interest, and the Millers want to use the opportunity to get more women of all ages and standards playing football.

“We really want to keep the momentum going by showing that football is for everyone,” the club’s head of public affairs, Jamie Noble, told PA news agency.

“We’ve been doing this for years, trying to develop the women’s game, so we need to use high-profile opportunities like the Women’s Euro to keep drumming at the highest level.

“There is a real feel-good factor around that. When the team is doing well, it cheers up the country.

“I don’t think it dawned on us at first how big this platform was going to be. We got it before Covid so a lot of what we started had to be stopped and then we had to start it all over again.

“It’s a bit like a domino effect: one thing leads to another.

“We have definitely seen an increase in demand over the past few weeks. It definitely made an instant impact in terms of girls.

“Every time we launch a holiday camp, before 90 percent of the visitors were boys, and now we have up to 50 percent of the visitors are women.”

The club is already implementing schemes that will appeal to women interested in all types of pursuits, whether it’s the path to elite football or purely recreational.

“We have things that are already set up, like fitness classes or walking groups, and we just bring football into them when the time is right,” Noble added. “It’s a lot of work with each group, designing the specific session they want.

“What you really want to do is ask them what they want and then tailor the sessions.”

The long-term goal is to increase the number of players in the club’s women’s team, which currently play in the North East Regional Women’s League Premier Division, the fifth tier of the English game.

The club’s ambition is much higher and it has spoken of targeting the women’s Super League, but Noble knows it’s a step by step process.

“We’re trying to use the international game profile to help us recruit new players,” Noble said.

“But we have to do it step by step. The first step is to move from level five to level four, which opens the door for additional funding and additional resources to manage the team.

“Once we’ve done that, we need to decide as a club if we can afford to go to WSL because we need to get a lot of investment from somewhere.

“As a football club, we don’t want to jeopardize the sustainability of the club.”

It could help that the stadium in New York became free for a few weeks during the men’s World Cup, and Noble is eyeing a women’s match to be played there.

He added: “Given the men’s World Cup in winter, I hope the matches are favorable and at the beginning of this break, before the field is repaired in the middle of the season, I hope we can play a game in New York. The stadium, that’s definitely what we’re looking at.”