'I've never seen people like this' - Lionesses' snapper talks women's football

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An account of immense development of women's football through a unique perspective

United Kingdom News, United Kingdom Headlines

Manchester photographer Madeleine Penfold set out to influence change within the women’s football sphere. She started out by dedicating her time volunteering for the Manchester United women’s squad back in 2018, helping to salvage the neglected aspect of the beautiful game to give the sport a little love. Now, she’s a global sensation.

“To see my work on a billboard like…” she trailed off into deep thought. “I had no idea that it was going to be there. I had no idea how big it was going to be. “My friends we’re like ‘it's everywhere.’ It was on a highway, you would go into Sydney and you’d see it, it’s huge!" “People in trees, people literally climbing up trees, to try and see screens outside the stadiums,” She laughed, “That was for a particular game. That wasn't just generally across the tournament.“It just felt like the country had something to be proud about, and little girls and maybe boys as well had a reason and a motivation to get their football boots on, and go after it.”

“And I think that's because each player can recognise the struggles that the other player has gone through. It has a higher level of importance than the actual football itself. That's what it comes down for, rather than it being this tribalistic, really emotional, aggressive thing that exists in the men's game.”

“I think Spain needed to win that tournament, for things to come to the surface. Had they not won it, would the Spanish national team have had their coaching staff completely changed? Would conditions have been looked at? Will we be having these conversations with other women coming forward?”

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