Women’s sport is going from strength to strength on the international stage.

Record-breaking crowds, TV appearances and international call-ups are all evidence of this massive – and welcome – growth in female sport.

On Saturday, more than 77,000 people packed into Wembley stadium as England women faced Germany, pulling in a record crowd for a women’s game.

The result at the weekend was another poor one for Phil Neville’s side. However, defeat against their arch-rivals did not take the shine off what was a brilliant day for not just the game but women’s sport in general.

The previous record dated back to the 2012 Olympics when 70,000 people packed out the national stadium to watch team GB against Brazil. Meanwhile, the record Lionesses attendance stood at 45,619, which was recorded the last time that they faced Germany at Wembley.

The netball World Cup on Merseyside in the summer also saw the Arena packed with record crowds to watch England take on the best teams in the world.

These are terrific figures, but if you look at attendances for the Women’s Super League (WSL), the highest attendance stands at measly 5,265.

Average attendances on Merseyside don’t look too pretty either. So far this season the maximum crowd for a Liverpool women’s game stands at 1,435, while Everton’s is even lower at 441.

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However, this might be subject to change as this Sunday as we see women’s football take another step in the right direction.

Anfield is set to host its first-ever FA women’s Super League game as Liverpool and Everton face-off in the season’s first Merseyside derby.

In an interview with MerseySportLive, Everton women’s head coach, Willie Kirk, revealed that games presented in stadiums such as Anfield is a big lift for players and rewards them for all the hard work they put in.

“I think the one-off games that have been getting played at men’s stadiums recently are good rewards to the players and staff that work so hard in the women’s game,” Willie told MerseySportLive.

“Clubs that have been hosting these matches have ensured that they are good, well put together occasions and it has meant that big crowds are turning up and it’s opening the women’s game up to new supporters.”

He went onto add that he has seen significant growth in the sport over the past few years and can only see it going in one direction.

“The women’s game has, and is progressing so quickly. My 4 ½ years in England has seen huge developments, ranging from player salaries, facilities, player fitness and many more.

“I can only see it continuing in the same way over the next few years and hopefully the 2021 Euros in this country will help boost national interest (spectators, commercial and tv) even more.”

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However, it isn’t just football that’s making strides on the main stage. On Saturday, St Helens and England women’s captain, Emily Rudge, created a bit of history of her own.

She became the first-ever women’s international to score four tries in a single game as England kicked off their historic tour of Papua New Guinea with a 24-10 victory in front of 7000 rowdy fans.

This comes just a month after we saw Sky Sports air the women’s rugby league Grand Final, in a year which also saw the record TV audience for a men’s final since its introduction in 1996.

And Emily believes that getting more games on Sky is exactly how the game will grow.

“It would be great to see more women’s Super League games shown on Sky next year as I think that will help get more support and recognition for each of the teams.”

Rudge – who joined Saints in 2018 – also spoke about the direction of the women’s game is heading in a recent interview with MerseySportLive and believes that game is growing more than ever before.

“Women’s rugby league has grown more in the last two years – since the start of Super League – than it has in the whole 15 years I have been playing,” said Emily.

“Amazing things continue to happen. Super League clubs backing women, a fan base growing each year, games on Sky, England women getting paid for the first time, more girls and women starting to play rugby league and women and men’s rugby league being presented on the same stages.

“I am not sure what will happen in the next couple of years before the World Cup, but I do know that with all the hard work and effort the RFL are putting into the women’s game, it will be bigger and better than it is now.”

Emily has had a very positive year of her own, captaining her Saints side to the 2019 playoffs, whilst also leading England on their Downer Nines campaign over in Australia. An event which took place on TV stations all around the world, including Sky Sports and FOX.

However, she reveals that whilst it has already been a positive year for the women’s game, there are still new experiences to look forward to in the coming years.

“It’s really pleasing to see the women’s game get the recognition it deserves on the international stage,” said Emily.

“This year has been amazing so far for England women, the two tours and lots of opportunities to play at the highest level, it’s helping us to prepare fully for the 2021 World Cup.”

After a very positive few weeks for both sports, Rudge has hailed the progress in which women’s football has made and hopes someday that rugby league will reach the same level.

“It’s an amazing achievement for women’s sport and it’s so pleasing to see the new heights women’s sport is reaching. It is something I hope women’s rugby league will follow and one day be able to reach the same level.”

(Image – Ann Odong under creative commons licence)