Coinciding with the celebration of 100 years since women gained the right to vote in the UK, Scotland’s Lisa Evans and three other top European internationals are using social media to spread the word about Women's football.
The Football Association have invested in a number of campaigns in recent years aimed at increasing girls’ participation in sports. Initiatives like Gameplan for Growth, Together #WePlayStrong, Girls Active, and This Girl Can have marked a growing interest and focus on this particular social issue.
The latest Office for National Statistics research shows girls still spend almost half the time boys do taking part in sport and are less likely to be involved in sport at all, with 38.8% of boys doing sport daily, compared with 26.4% of girls.
The Arsenal and Scotland player Lisa Evans believes using new technology to target teenagers is vital to increasing the profile of women in sport: “Social media is taking over and is the biggest thing out there for attracting people to anything – be it news, sport or entertainment. Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, they’re the growth markets for teenagers. So using them is one way we get to the age group we are targeting and hopefully can encourage them to play football.”
Evans is speaking after beginning a vlogging series for Uefa’s YouTube channel, Together #WePlayStrong alongside Basel’s German striker Eunice Beckmann and the Austrian internationals Sarah Zadrazil and Laura Feiersinger, who play for the German clubs Turbine Potsdam and Sand respectively.
The four friends film their day-to-day lives, from training to grocery shopping, to give an insight into life as professional female athletes.
Evans was part of the Scotland team which played in its first European Championship finals in the summer and the benefits of a team environment stick out for her. “I think any sport in general, whether it’s professional or amateur, gives you opportunities to be around people, be in a team environment,” she says. “It’s more like that in the women’s game as a whole. The men’s is much more about the individual now, but in women’s it’s all about team cohesion. That’s what’s so great about the vlog. It’s about four friends from different countries and different backgrounds who have all played together and now gone their separate ways.”
Beckmann, who played in the US and Germany before she moved to Basel, where she has 12 goals in 12 games, has experienced football in the two biggest women’s footballing nations. “In America men’s football isn’t as big as men’s football in Europe. The women’s national team is more successful than the men’s national team and that’s why girls over there are more inspired by the US women’s team,” she explains. “I played a regular game in Portland and I think there were over 20,000 in the stadium. I’ve never played in front of so many people.”
The weekly series is three weeks in and has attracted between 200,000 to 700,000 views per episode. Uefa is clearly hoping it can tap into the rise of the YouTube star and its slick cartoon graphics flit across the playful, Snapchat-esque amateur footage by the players.