After their eventful and well-fought campaign, Tony makes note of the Lionesses’ performances throughout their time in France, especially mentioning those of Karen Bardsley and Carly Telford who equally shared the three games each that England featured in. Also, Tony speaks of those who performed despite challenges in their career in the WSL– Swedish keeper Hedvig Lindahl and the Dutch captain Sari Van Veenendaal (winner of Goalkeeper of the Tournament) - and highlights how their careers have been affected by this exposure and the surge in popularity that women’s football has received in the last six months.
Tony speaks about the varied reactions since the WWC finished a few weeks ago, how we can learn from what has been shown across the tournament and what changes could be made or developments that can be pursued when looking into the future of goalkeeping in the women’s game.
As he has mentioned in a previous GK intelligence feature article, Tony stands by his opinion that we need not to move the goalposts in the women’s football, as instead we should focus on adapting our coaching and improving it in order to match this challenge. Not only in goalkeeping, but in all walks of life, it is important to allow time and have patience in order to see the results we want, and with this situation the developing level of goalkeeping coaching is allowing for these improvements to come.
Beyond the World Cup standout performers, there is also an abundant, and growing, talent pool domestically. A number of female goalkeepers are developing with exciting potential throughout the development pathway, leaving the goalkeeping landscape on an upward trajectory:
The future for women’s football, particularly goalkeeping, is in safe hands according to Tony. Whilst there was limited opportunity to see many young goalkeepers perform at the WWC, Tony points out that much like the aforementioned search for development within the game, the chances these goalkeepers will get will come with time and persistence. But at the moment, the high quality performances we saw during the tournament will act as this “catalyst” to drive the popularity and further focus towards developing the goalkeeping world and community within women’s football.
The adjustment of rules surrounding penalties and the introduction of VAR into women’s international football took its toll on the games and the performances of many players. It put them in uncomfortable positions and tested their attitudes, adaptability and resilience in ‘controlling the controllables’ despite external unrest and complaint. Tony tells us, from his own perspective, how we can understand the difficulties faced by these application of new rules for the professionals and the ways the rules will be implemented at lower levels.
It will be interesting to see the development, or regression, of the VAR rules and its presence in competitions both domestically and internationally over coming seasons. Indeed, if it is going to remain commonplace within most competitions, goalkeepers, coaches and support staff will need to continue to develop psychologically to mitigate the distraction and disturbance it can cause to the flow of a game.
It goes without saying: the WWC has brought about many fantastic opportunities for development within the women’s game, especially for goalkeeping. The television coverage of the competition allowed for a greater public exposure to women’s football which has never been seen before at such a level and this clearly strengthened its public image and will have also opened the minds of many who perhaps undervalued the development in recent years and also the skill and professionalism that is possessed by the players at this level.