The male monopoly of the beautiful game is almost history. Last year’s Women’s World Cup, held in Germany, was a resounding success both in terms of audiences and profits. And female footballers say they are more than a match for the boys when it comes to playing ball.
Olha Boychenko, a striker with the Ukrainian Women’s team, told euronews: “I think in the physical contacts, men excel. And in speed. Although I think we could argue about that! Women’s football is different now. Previously there were no tactics: the coach gives you the ball, you roll it and you don’t know what else to do. And now everything is professional, just like in men’s football.”
Anatoliy Kutsev, the head coach of the Ukrainian Women’s team explained: “In the purely sporting aspects of training – there are no differences between men’s and women’s football! The difference is perhaps only in the fact that women need a bit of a different approach. Women’s bodies and psychology are different from men’s. They are more vulnerable – let’s say.”
According to these players, the future of football is female. But not everyone agrees. The Ukrainian media does not pay much attention to the National Women’s Football Championship. And due to poor funding, almost all the players from the national team play abroad.
Despite all this, in 2009 the Ukrainian women’s team qualified for the finals of the European Championship in Finland. And in the FIFA World ranking the Ukrainian women’s team is 26 steps higher than the men’s.
At the Shakhtar Football Academy however, there is no lack of funding or infrastructure. The facilities are enviable. But there is no women’s team. Here, teams of all ages play on the same gaming scheme.
Yuriy Dudinskiy the coordinator at the Shakhtar Football Academy, said: “Wherever we went in Europe, to Dutch or Spanish football academies – all of them use the 1-4-3-3 scheme. They think it is a more offensive scheme for the development of children. This scheme is considered the best one for training good football players. But although many clubs play using this scheme, we do not! ‘Shakhtar’ uses a different scheme, we have just one striker.”
With Euro 2012 approaching, football fever is taking hold. And it is not just for men.