Psychologists at Birmingham City University have suggested that collective euphoria around the istoric England win will bleed into public support for the Commonwealth Games, as well as underlining the importance of role models in sport for children and young people in Britain.
Dr Elle Boag and Dr Emily Coyne-Umfreville, psychologists at Birmingham City University, spoke after the national women’s football scooped the Euros trophy in a 120 minute battle with Germany at Wembley.
An Associate Professor in Applied Social Psychology at Birmingham City University, she said: “Last night’s victory will have a direct impact on the view and status of women as professional footballers. Women’s football across all leagues is already a growing domain and our women’s teams consistently demonstrate that they are equally, if not more successful than the men’s team.
“The Lionesses’ achievement will certainly foster a sense of national pride akin to that around the London 2012 Olympics likely to also bleed into the public’s viewing of and support of British teams across the remaining events of the 2022 Commonwealth Games; but this will, like in 2012 be transient – at least until the next major footballing event for England when the hope will be reignited, led by the success of the Lionesses for sure.
“Last night’s England win and higher visibility of women athletes and Paralympians around the Commonwealth Games being held in Birmingham this year will also bolster the confidence in girls and young women from all backgrounds who aspire to be like their female (and male) sporting heroes in football or any other domain. This is particularly important particularly in light of Covid, Brexit, the war in Ukraine and other political and social issues that may have impacted on physical, emotional, social and political wellbeing.”
Dr Emily Coyne-Umfreville, Deputy Head of Psychology at Birmingham City University, commented: “We know that there are differences between genders in terms of brain development and these can often lead to play choices being gender-stereotyped. As such, we find that girls will often expressive traits (being compassionate, being talkative and engaging in social play) and boys will tend to show more instrumental traits (independence and leadership skills).
“Football is often classified (wrongly!) as a ‘boys sport’ and therefore girls will often grow up being influenced that it is not for them. The Lionesses win will have huge importance for young children (both girls and boys) to show that this is a sport that is for everyone. For young girls having a female role model has been found to be hugely important in promoting both sporting engagement and career choices.
“Additionally, the victory for the England national women’s football team will hopefully allow the players to achieve visibility and profile on a par with the men’s game and take a step closer to equality in sport. Alongside the Commonwealth Games, being held in Birmingham, which is the first integrated games with para-sport, this is a fantastic time for positive role models showing us that we can try new sports and achieve great things.”