It is 1917, and we are in Britain. The First World War has driven thousands of British men to the front, and in the factories, there is a growing need for labour. For this reason, for the first time, after centuries of being marginalised, women were called on to work in factories, and it is in one of those that the history of women’s football started in Britain, the birthplace of world football.
That factory is “Dick Kerr & Co”, important in that period for arms production, and here are the women, considered the pioneers of female football in Europe and worldwide, the “Kerr’s Ladies”, workers who during their breaks used to play football to help pass the time.
From then on, the phenomenon spread like wildfire throughout the country with the foundation of 150 teams in just four years.Soon, the women realised, as in the workplace, there was nothing men had over them in playing that sport. So, they trained more regularly, until 25 December 1917, with a men’s team, they organised charity matches.
In 1920, the first international match in the history of women’s football was played between Kerr’s Ladies and a selection of French players chosen by Alice Milliat, founder of the Fédération des Sociétés Feminizes Sportives de France. The match was played in Preston, and over 25 thousand spectators attended and saw the first English victory over the French. After that, various games were played between the two countries, sometimes in England, sometimes in France.
The spread of women’s football and the enthusiasm created around this sport, however, worried the Football Association, which, to silence the movement, on 5 December 1921, issued an order banning women from playing football, because it was held they were not suited to the sport.
After a long period of stall in which women’s football was forced by external factors to slow its growth, during the Second World War, it spread and reached Norway, Sweden, and Germany.
Since then, it has continued to grow worldwide without interruption.