The UEFA Women’s EUROs kicked off yesterday as host nation England beat Austria 1-0 due to an early winner by Beth Mead at Old Trafford.
In honour of England hosting an integral tournament for the women’s game, William Hill launched a new show, ‘Cafe Roar’, to preview the games and get insight from the sports best minds.
On the pilot show, host Nicole Holliday was joined by ex-Manchester City and England defender Joleon Lescott, current WBO Junior Middleweight world champion Natasha Jonas, and women’s football journalist Flo Lloyd-Hughes.
Lescott was quizzed on what it means to represent England at a major tournament and how much pressure comes with that. Lescott took a trip down memory lane, most notably when he scored at EURO 2012 for England, in a 1-1 draw against France.
“It’s surreal after, when you’re in the game you kind of take it for granted. Obviously you’re happy to go and be involved but it was after I retired, I really appreciated what that meant to the nation,” expressed Lescott.
“Luckily enough I scored as well and I was speaking to someone about my proudest moment in football and it wasn’t the goal, it was a text from my mum saying how proud she was about that moment, because that was a moment the whole nation was watching.”
Despite being a world champion boxer, Jonas isn’t the only pro athlete in the family, as her younger sister Nikita Parris is one of England’s most experienced and talented forwards.
Jonas gave viewers a little insight on the good mood around the England camp, as the ‘Lionesses’ walked into their home turf off the back of 14 games unbeaten
Jonas said: “They just want to be in front of the home fans and perform, they know that they can and they play like they can.”
The show moves onto the growth of the women’s game, particularly in the host country. There was backlash from fans of the women’s game with stadiums such as Manchester City’s academy stadium’s capacity being reduced from 7,000 to 4,000.
However, England women’s most capped player, Fara Williams (172 caps) recognises that every England game being sold out is a sign of the women’s game growing, but does highlight that more can be done to attract fans to matches of other countries.
Former England captain and Manchester United legend, Rio Ferdinand, reiterated Williams’ statement and looked to the bigger clubs in England and their influence on the women’s game.
Ferdinand said: “You see a lot of the bigger clubs now have women and men alongside each other. Just that image there for a young person’s eye, that gap begins to bridge a little bit. It’s little things like that with the message and the way it goes around that’s really important.”