LOCAL PLAYERS AND COACHES INSPIRED BY LIONESSES

Wednesday night saw the England Women's Football team drop out of the World Cup through a cruel own goal from Laura Bassett but their efforts in the tournament have inspired young players all across the country. 

Solent Ladies striker Tasha Kenny said that she really felt the team had "inspired the nation" while her former coach Mark Savvides admitted that he hadn't expected it to "gather the interest it has across the country." 

Other players to speak about the Lionesses performance in Canada included Emma Pinner and Zoe Lewis while New Milton Town FC boss Callum Brooks was also asked to add his thoughts. 

Kenny, who is the current pitch captain at Southern League side Solent Ladies, was asked whether the Lionesses performances had inspired her any further. 

Solent Ladies FC during the 2014/15 season 

"Completely." Kenny replied. "What an inspiration they have been. I know everyone's being saying it but I really do think they have inspired a nation. Everyone I know has been talking about it."

"I think with some of the stories behind some of the players like Carney & Kirby, they have shown that even against all the odds it's still possible to make it to the top!" 

England were knocked out of the competition when Bassett deflected a cross into her own goal off the crossbar in the final minute of injury time. The team were left with just 30 seconds to try and equalise but Japan held them off and qualified for the final. 

"I was honestly close to tears." Kenny admitted. "I wouldn't have been so upset if I felt Japan deserved a goal but they didn't. England were terrific and didn't deserve to be dealt such a low blow in the last minute of the game with no time to recover."

"I can't even imagine how Bassett must have felt and as much as everyone will try and reassure her that's going to play on her mind for a very long time." Kenny continued. "She played so well consistently throughout the tournament yet that's how she'll be remembered. I can't think of much worse!"

Savvides (right) with former Solent co-manager Dan Payne (centre) 

Coach Mark Savvides is now based in America after graduating from Solent University and he revealed that he had been able to watch the vast majority of the matches from the World Cup. 

Savvides said: "I definitely feel that the performance will increase female participation in football starting from now."

"In America, the female national side have always been of a fantastic quality, causing young females to get in to soccer which produces a fantastic national team."

"As for England, the female side haven't managed to excel until now."

"Although with it finally getting the recognition it deserves, I'm sure young women will be asking for boots for Christmas so they can join a team and be the next Lucy Bronze or Karen Carney!"  

"I genuinely didn't expect the England women to gather the interest it has across the country." Savvides then admitted. "The performances have taken social media by storm and instead of them getting slated for being female football players, the nation actually got behind them. I think that was a factor in them making it as far as they did."

"Before the tournament, I'm sure 99% of the country couldn't have named a single English player. Now however, that's completely changed. Also, with women now being implemented in to FIFA 2016, this is further evidence that female soccer is on the rise!"

Former Solent Ladies captain's Emma Pinner (pictured) and Zoe Lewis also shared their thoughts on the Lionesses. 

"The teams performance has been inspiration and incredible motivation, not only for everyone who already plays football but for the younger generation who are at grass roots level." Pinner said. "The team has shown great professionalism and have done England proud." 

Pinner was also asked whether the teams performance would inspire young girls to want to play.  

"I am sure it will." Pinner replied. "With the coverage on the BBC for this World Cup, nearly every game has been available to watch live or catch up on."

"By allowing this coverage, it let's the younger generation see their idols play and to an extremely high quality level on TV, and it can only give them more of a drive to play."

Zoe Lewis was also asked whether the next generation would be inspired by the Lionesses and she said: "Oh definitely! How can it not? They reached the last 4 that's as far as the men have ever got apart from 1966."

"They deserve to be looked up to & to become role models to younger girls and boys included. The fact it is on TV, ok maybe at awkward times, but it's at least there and can only mean things are going to get better for women's football."  

Lewis also said the interest from the men in the competition had increased as well. "I know many boys and men that have been following the Women's World Cup and willing the ladies on, it's been really good to see!" 

"From social media I could gather everyone was routing for the Lionesses and were expecting extra time but maybe it just wasn't our time!"

New Milton Town FC boss Callum Brooks manages the Men's Wessex League side at Fawcetts Field but he and his management team specialise in club and player development.

"The Lionesses have done absolutely fantastic." Brooks said. "They've produced honest, gutsy performances and the country can be very proud of their efforts."
 
"Credit also needs to be handed to the management team as they grew into the tournament game by game." Brooks continued.

"After a disappointing first game against France the teams performances picked up game by game culminating in a fine semi final performance against Japan which I thought we was very unlucky to lose." 

"The smallest of details win you football games and this proved to be the case on Wednesday night," the Linnets manager explained, "However the cruelty of losing a semi final in that fashion cannot be understated."
 
"The journey to the semi final for our girls and the quality on show throughout the tournament will ensure that the profile of the women's game continues to grow." He said. "I was fortunate enough to attend the women's champions league final 2 years ago and was astounded by the technical ability on show." 
 

"It's nice to be able to reflect positively on a tournament performance from one of our national sides as let's be honest we would have to go back a long time to feel any kind of satisfaction about any of our men's team European championships or World Cup performances."  

The Lionesses will play one more game in Canada at the World Cup and they will play Germany to see which side wins the third place spot. That game will be played tomorrow (Saturday) and will be broadcast live on BBC3 (according to the BBC Sport website). 

3rd July 2015 - Alex Barnes