It is impossible to compare the popularity of women’s football to men’s football in today’s world, but there was a time when FA had to ban women’s football because it was becoming more popular than men’s football. In 1921, FA decided to ban women’s football on all competitive levels. The history of women’s football is quite impressive. A match between married and unmarried women was played annually in the city of Inverness in Scotland in the 18th century. The game would be played to help single men choose their bride. It is one of the earliest histories of women sports, even before the birth of modern football.
As men’s football was getting popular in the 1890s, women also started to come up and revolutionized their game. The founder of British Ladies’ Football Club (BLFC), Nettie J Honeyball, is one of the earliest pioneers of women’s football. The club was founded in 1895, and Lady Florence Dixie was named its first president. BLFC acted as an association which arranged football games between the teams from Northern and Southern parts of England. The money raised from these matches were used for charity.
In 1914-1915, when the first world war broke out, men had to go to the war and women made all kinds of efforts so they could to help their country too. They tried to help the men in every way possible. Their most distinguished role was the role of “munitionettes,” the women working in the factories to produce the weapons for the Army in the war. During this period, women started to play football during their breaks to rejuvenate themselves and to boost their morale. Sensing the increase in productivity as well, seniors formed the teams and regularly arranged games between them.
One of the best teams during that time was Dick, Kerr’s Ladies. This team would draw crowds by the thousands to each of their matches. They played many charity matches for different causes; the most important was for the wounded soldiers. Even after the war Dick, Kerr’s Ladies kept on playing as a footballing team. More than 150 women’s teams were formed by 1920, taking the popularity of women’s sport to unprecedented heights. The fabulous Lilly Parr was part of the Dick, Kerr’s Ladies team, making it one of the best teams in women’s football. They drew more than ten thousand spectators to almost every match they played. Women’s football was at its peak during this time and was likely to climb higher and higher.
With the growing fear of women’s game overtaking the men’s football, FA decided to do something about it. What happened after that can only be termed as a despicable act. FA banned all of its members from letting women teams play on their grounds. They didn’t even allow their referees and officials to take part in women’s games. Women could only play football to enjoy themselves as a hobby. Women’s football slowly started to fade away after this drastic step was taken. It took 50 years to lift the ban from the women’s football.