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Opinion: World Cup inspiring female footballers

PUBLISHED: 08:30 23 June 2019

West Ham United Ladies' Gilly Flaherty wants to inspire young people. Picture: WHFC

West Ham United Ladies' Gilly Flaherty wants to inspire young people. Picture: WHFC

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After all the anticipation, the FIFA Women's World Cup is in full swing and has really started with a bang.

We've seen the favourites France win their first game, a 13-0 win for the USA, and the tournament starting in the best way possible for England, with a 2-1 win over Scotland followed by a win over Argentina.

The viewing figures have been incredible, with over six million people tuning in for the England vs Scotland game. This just shows the interest in women's football and it is fantastic to see.We've seen huge increases in attendances at Rush Green for our games, with more than 1,500 people watching our last game, and hopefully this summer is going to push this on again.

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When it comes to England in their game against Scotland, they got the win, and I think in the first half Scotland showed England too much respect. I don't know what Shelley Kerr, the Scottish manager, said at half-time, but it must have been "right, let's go out, let's stop showing them the respect and let's get in their faces", and for me, Scotland were the better team in the second half.

The penalty England got was a bonus as it was a harsh decision. But as soon as it went to VAR (Video Assistant Referee) I said "they're going to give it as a penalty". It has hit her arm, it was unjustified as I don't think it was a penalty, but again if it is seen on VAR they are going to have to give it. It's hard for a defender, what can you do? You're going to have to put your hands behind your back now!

For me, the favourites are still France. They beat South Korea 4-0 in the opening game, where my West Ham United teammate Cho (So-hyun) captained the side. France are unreal, the players they've got. If England qualify from the group as I expect them to, it will set the scene for a great World Cup and bring even more interest in the sport and build the profile.

It's really important that we do what we can to inspire the next generation and that is something that we're really conscious of at West Ham. We want as many people as possible to come and support us at Rush Green, which is why I think it is great that we have initiatives like our season tickets being available to younger fans from just £5.

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