England legends such as Alessia Russo, Jess Carter and Keira Walsh will one day make way for a new pack – and experts say the next generation need greater support (Pictures: Getty/Emily Manley)
Female footballers are still ‘under-supported’ in their careers, a top sports agent has said.
Laura Doyle, the head of women’s football at sports agency ICM Stellar, helps to scout talented and young female players, sign them and develop them. She has faced criticism for a lack of diversity in the process but she is producing the results.
As England Women players retire year on year, the company helps ensure that ‘we’ve always got this flow of Lionesses coming through, these fantastic female players coming through’.
Laura said: ‘What the England team now are doing, and all of the professional football players that are playing right now, is incredible.
‘They’re pioneers. They’re real trailblazers in the game.
SHe went on to say ‘I want to look for the next generation, the generation of footballers that are going to build on what these women have achieved.’
She said the company started their women’s division about 18 months ago and it was important to ‘give these young women girls exactly the same treatment as the men – in terms of level of service and attention that they’re given.’ But ultimately it is a business.
But, despite the successes on the pitch, Laura says women’s football is ‘still under-supported’.
England’s Rachel Daly celebrates with Beth England after beating Nigeria
She said: ‘It’s under-resourced and if we can bridge that gap in any way, and help these young girls to achieve their potential, then we’re willing to do that, and we have the power of the company behind us to be able to support that.’
The company works with the players to help them develop the skills they need to succeed at the highest levels, she said.
Ms Doyle said: ‘As it’s put on a global scale, they’re going to need a lot more pastoral care, media training.
‘The commercial deals are going to start coming in.
‘There’s going to be so much involved in being a female football player, as there will be being a male player, so for us, it was to offer exactly that same level of care and attention that the men have traditionally enjoyed in the Premier League and the Championship.’
A new pack of Lionesses are being trained – but they need better support, agents say
Since the Lionesses roared to victory in the final of the Euros, 200 new clubs have been funded across the country as girls are inspired by the likes of Alessia Russo, Keira Walsh and Lauren James.
The new investment came as players themselves wrote to Downing Street to demand better support by the Government.
Former England and Arsenal player Rachel Yankey recently spoke to Metro from Bearsted FC, Alessia Russo’s first club in Kent, about the difference proper funding makes.
She said: ‘This was a club that was close to closing when the pandemic hit, they got National Lottery funding of £10,000 to keep it afloat.
‘Some of these girls may never get to the level of their former player Alessia Russo, but it will give them an insight into the game and the knowledge they could go down a pathway into women’s sport.
Former Lioness Rachel Yankey at Bearsted FC
‘They have been encouraged to have a voice and know it will be listened to.
‘These girls feel they can stand up and shout out about things that aren’t right, but also be loud and proud about positive things.
‘Now we need to make sure there’s more funding and more investment to keep that going.
‘The National Lottery have funded 200 clubs since the Euros and it just makes me think “wow, how many potential Lionesses we will have in the future.’”
Off the pitch, sponsorship and investment by major companies is needed to accompany the growth, experts say.
Fran Theokli, marketing director for Weetabix, previously said that widespread investment by companies into the women’s game should be seen as the norm, not a novelty.
She told WTX UK: ‘‘The momentum and direction the women’s game is travelling means it just makes sense to get involved.
‘And commercially, it is incredibly important and interesting for us as well. Karen Carney, one of the most well-known former professional footballers, has talked about it potentially being a billion pound industry in the not too distant future.’
‘As it’s put on a global scale, they’re going to need a lot more pastoral care, media training.’ As well as some role models foy younger feamales to follow.