For the women’s game to prosper in English football, facilities, social media exposure and opportunities must continue to improve for girls across the country.
That is the view of Sheffield United Ladies’ defender Samantha Tierney, who knows first-hand from her own experiences of trying to burst into the senior game.
Speaking about women’s football as a whole, Tierney praised the impact of the Women’s World Cup in France in the summer, noting a definite improvement in attendances at Blades’ games since.
“The main thing we recognise in our games is definitely the younger generation coming to watch and becoming inspired. This is vital because if the profile keeps rising, they could be the players for the future.
“Women’s teams are starting to do more social media work, too – the Blades’ are especially good at this – and it can only help boost the profile, because then more girls playing the greater talent pool available and that can only benefit the game.”
Tierney joined the Blades’ academy at eight when the club was unable to field a women’s side due to lack of finances and facilities.
At 16, she left United for Doncaster Belles but returned to her home-town club in the summer of 2018 as the women’s game was restructured nationally.
“When I was at the academy, we all wanted to stay at United but there was no women’s team then,” said Tierney.
“To hear of their interest when the senior team was formed – and to compete in their first season in the Championship (second tier) was massive for me.”
Since re-signing last summer, Tierney has established herself in the side and earned rave reviews from manager Carla Ward.
Reflecting on her manager’s positive words, Tierney continued: “I’m really pleased, there is a lot of strong competition and no-one’s place is guaranteed, so hearing your manager give a review like that reassures you. I’ll work as hard as I can to keep my place in the team, but it is pleasing to hear nice things.”
Tierney was on the scoresheet for the first time in her career in a 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers Ladies, which took them to third. “It really was a proud moment for me, having come through the academy. It was great.
“We are taking it one game at a time and trying to become hard to beat, so if we focus on the short term, then promotion may very well happen.”