If you build it, they will come.
Tottenham’s new billion-dollar stadium attracted a record crowd for women’s soccer in England with 38,262 fans watching a historic north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal Sunday.
The game was a new high for the Women’s Super League (WSL), surpassing the 31,213 who packed in to watch Manchester City’s win over Manchester United in September.
Tottenham was promoted to the top flight this season to set up its first competitive meeting with traditional rival Arsenal since the WSL began in 2011.
Arsenal, which brought a lively pack of away fans, triumphed 2-0 with goals from Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema, but it was another landmark moment in the women’s game that continues to grow in England and around the world.
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‘Everything I’ve dreamed of’
There was certainly a family feel to Sunday’s game with cheaper tickets offering children a chance to watch women’s football in one of the world’s best stadiums.
However, the London rivalry was not lost on the younger audience and both sets of fans contributed to a lively atmosphere in the stadium.
“To step out today in front of that many people is just everything I’ve dreamed of,” Tottenham player Josie Green told Spurs TV.
“If we can just inspire a few girls today to get out and join a team or keep playing football and know that one day that maybe they can come and play here, it’s just amazing.”
Room to grow
Tottenham’s state-of-the-art arena opened in April and has a capacity of 62,062, meaning there is still room for improvement in the women’s game.
But Sunday’s record shows the trajectory being enjoyed by the sport ever since the successful Women’s World Cup earlier this year.
It was also the first time Tottenham’s women had played in the new stadium and they certainly made the most of it against more experienced opposition.
After a nervy start, Spurs grew into the game and almost took the lead on two occasions in the first half.
“I don’t think the players were fazed at all with 38,000 people behind them,” Tottenham co-head coach Karen Hills told BBC Sport after the game.
“I thought the girls were absolutely outstanding – it is just disappointing to concede those two goals.”
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It’s not yet clear when Spurs will play at the new stadium again and the question remains how many of Sunday’s fans will watch Tottenham’s next home game against Brighton on December 8.
However, there is certainly momentum behind the women’s game in England at present, demonstrated by the record home crowd that watched the women’s national team play Germany at Wembley Stadium earlier in November.