Chelsea Women begin our Barclays FA Women’s Super League campaign at Stamford Bridge on Sunday against Tottenham Hotspur and Millie Bright has urged fellow clubs to capitalise on the rise of interest in the sport since the World Cup.
England’s Lionesses reached the semi-final of the Women’s World Cup in July, but they fell short against four-time champions, the USA, suffering a slender 2-1 defeat in front of more than 53,000 spectators in Lyon.
The defeat to the reigning champions was the most watched TV broadcast of the year so far, with nearly 12 million people in Britain tuning in.
Despite the huge surge of popularity in the women’s game, Blues’ defender, Millie Bright, who played in four of England’s five World Cup matches knows plenty more hard work is ahead.
‘Coming straight back to Sheffield, I had a welcome home from my village, which was amazing,’ the 26-year-old has said.
‘I was so disappointed that I didn't have anything to give back but they ultimately didn't want a medal, they said they were just so proud of how well we played and what we've done for their daughters and their sons.
‘We've started a new urge for young girls to get involved in football and for everyone to get on board. We've got new audiences supporting the game and wanting to come to games, but this is the most crucial part.
‘Off the back of something so good, we have to push again and I think that's every club taking responsibility and really pushing audiences and ticket sales and getting people involved. This is the time to do it,’ Bright continued.
The Chelsea central defender believes that the ongoing rise of attention towards England will have a positive impact at club level.
‘Even when we've not won anything and people are taking this much interest, it makes you think, "Wow, what could we actually do if we did win a trophy or if we did get to that final?"
‘That's extra motivation now to go on and, not just with England but at club level, go on and win trophies and make the game exciting, make the performances top drawer to generate even more interest because we've got people's attention.’
Limited tickets are available for our London derby against Spurs, which kicks off at 12.30pm on Sunday 8 September at Stamford Bridge.
Sunday promises to be great day, with plenty of entertainment for all the family to enjoy at the Bridge even before the game has kicked off.
Looking specifically at this weekend's opening game, Bright said:
‘I'm super excited, obviously these are the games that you want to play in; big stadiums, big crowds. It's an honour to play in front of these crowds and to be privileged enough to play at Stamford Bridge.
‘We really appreciate the support and the fans - that's what makes this happen and pushes the women's game even further.
The Blues failed to win a trophy last season having reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and the Women’s FA Cup, and finished third in the league behind Arsenal and Manchester City. Due to a third-place finish, Chelsea will not be competing in the European competition this season. However, Bright has high hopes for the 2019/20 season.
‘There's three trophies up for grabs for us this year so that's our aim. We want to win, we want trophies, we want to perform at the top level.
‘We kind of found our rhythm towards the end of last season and our momentum. In the Lyon game, if we'd have taken a couple more of our chances it could have been us in the final.
‘I think we proved ourselves, we proved our level and that we're capable of playing against the best teams and ultimately beating them.
‘We just didn't get the result but I think it's important to keep the Champions League level this year even though we're not competing in it and make sure we get the qualification for next season.’