Former Lioness, Faye White MBE, captained the national side through four major international tournaments and remains the longest-serving England Women’s captain.
Faye also won over 30 trophies with Arsenal Women, and led them to double, treble and quadruple victory as captain. Now, a prominent co-commenter and pundit, we caught up with Faye to talk about the women’s World Cup and how England might fare.
Faye, what have you thought of the tournament so far?
I was out in Nice for the first England game against Scotland - it was nice to see the atmosphere and how many fans had travelled. The tournament as a whole has been really good and exciting.
What are England’s chances in the competition?
I think we definitely have a good chance, but the first game was tricky for England, and they’re going to have to raise their performance to be at their best if we’re getting through to the latter stages. We have strength in depth and players who have the experience of youth tournaments, so are less likely to be intimidated. We have a good manager who should be able to handle the pressures that a big tournament can bring, so we should certainly be thinking semi-final at least, because we can play and compete with the best.
What do you think about the big score lines we’ve seen in some of the matches?
The lower ranked nations are improving and getting more funding, but in some cases they’re still not comparable when its full-time players versus part-time. Those kinds of score lines show there are gaps in the way the federations in other countries support their teams. But equally, Argentina are ranked lower than Thailand, and they managed to hold Japan - who were finalists last time - to a nil-nil draw. Sometimes it’s the day, the game and the occasion that can affect teams as well. There were some comments about celebrating when you’ve scored lots of goals, but I think it’s a World Cup - you’re allowed to celebrate every goal like it’s your first!
How does it feel for you as a former captain to watch England play?
It’s great to see the game continually growing, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say there’s a part of me that wishes I could turn the clock back and start all over again. For me, the best thing about football is playing, and nothing will ever replace putting on that shirt and representing your country. It’s great to still be involved and to see the sport grow and prosper. I’m confident we will have a superstar player soon, and that will be great because that will mean not only success for England, but also more support filtering down into the WSL too.
What would you like to see happen in women’s football?
The BBC is showing most of the world cup games live, and I think WSL games need to be on that level too - I would like to see women’s football games regularly shown on TV, so we can reach a wider audience. After major tournaments, there has always been a spike in interest and people tend to come to the first few league games afterward, but it would be great if we were getting 10,000 people regularly. There’s lots to iron out as the game grows, but it would be nice to see women’s games being played at the men’s grounds when possible, as it will make it easier for fans to come and support. Barclays is coming on board sponsoring the WSL next season - that investment and a focus on development by the clubs will help to put the women’s teams on a par with the men.
Best of luck to the Lionesses, as England take on Argentina on Friday 14th at 8pm.