Revealing the hidden history of women’s football

Women's football team face the camera in two rows - one standing behind, one kneeling in front.
St Helen's WFC, 1977. Copyright: National Football Museum
As England prepares to host the UEFA Women’s EUROs this summer, a National Lottery funded project will tell the stories of the country's female pioneers of the game.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded £500,000 to the ‘UEFA Women's EURO 2022 ­­– Women's Football Heritage’ project, led by Rotherham Council and Milton Keynes Council in partnership with the Football Association (FA).

Unheard voices

For the first time, information about every England player, captain, goal scorer and match score since 1972 will be researched and recorded. It will be shared alongside the information that already exists about men’s football.

Hosted on the FA’s England Football website, the record will continue to be updated, ensuring future female players in England are part of the wider footballing story. The project will particularly explore the role of the LGBTQ+ community in women’s football.

We’re delighted to support this project, which will give fans and players the chance to celebrate the history of women’s football and communities to discover their connections to the game.

- Eilish McGuinness, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund

In a year which also marks 141 years since the women’s England team first played competitively, the project will challenge the perception of football being ‘new’ for women and improve how the sport is understood. 

Women's football team stand in two rows, posing for camera photo
Dick, Kerr Ladies, formed in Preston, 1917. Copyright: National Football Museum

Summer of celebration

An exciting summer of celebrations, exhibitions, memory films, oral histories and community activities will be held in the nine UEFA Women’s EURO host cities: Brighton & Hove, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Rotherham, Sheffield, Southampton, Trafford and Wigan & Leigh.

Eilish McGuinness, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the hidden history and unheard voices of women’s football will be shared for the first time, capturing the full story of the beloved sport.

“We’re delighted to support this project which will give fans and players the chance to celebrate the history of women’s football and communities to discover their connections to the game.”

Sharing sporting heritage

National Lottery funding has helped projects share the heritage and unheard voices of many sports across the UK. Recent examples include:

Have a project idea?

We fund heritage projects large and small, providing grants from £3,000 up to millions of pounds. 

Take a look at our funding programmes to see if one might be right for you.

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