With a month until the Women’s World Cup kicks off in France, a mum and daughter visit Lyon – host for semi-finals and the final – to watch Europe’s best team
As my seven-year-old daughter, Ella, jumped up and down along with 26,000 Lyon fans, I couldn’t help grinning. Back in the UK, women’s domestic league games rarely take place in large stadiums. Big matches – such as last weekend’s FA Cup Final – attract large crowds, but the playground taunt “football isn’t for girls” is hard to argue with when it’s rare to find a women’s game shown live on terrestrial TV, or a match at a Premier League ground.
But at Lyon’s 60,000-seater Groupama stadium – which will host both semi-finals and the final of next month’s Women’s World Cup (7 June-7-July) – and where Lyon play their big games, women’s football is on another level. We watched the best women’s club team in the world bang in five goals against rivals Paris Saint-Germain to win the title decider, before captain Wendie Renard leapt over the barriers, grabbed the microphone and serenaded the fans. We stood on our seats and cheered our hearts out, singing, “Qui ne saute pas, n’est pas Lyonnais…” (Whoever isn’t jumping, isn’t from Lyon). Drums banged, flags waved and faces were streaked in red, white and blue, the club colours. We had only been in the city 24 hours, but already we’d fallen head over heels for the place.