Beth Mead: We want to push women's football to a new level
On Thursday night it was confirmed this summer’s tournament is already the most attended EUROs in history despite there still being 15 matches to go. But for players like Beth Mead, they will not settle for where the game is at now.
UEFA has confirmed the EUROs in England has already surpassed the previous record of 240,045 fans, which came during the tournament in the Netherlands in 2017.
The opening fixture of the tournament at Old Trafford, when England beat Austria 1-0, was a new record attendance for a UEFA Women’s EUROs match and that is set to be broken once again on Sunday 31 July when the Final takes place at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.
“I think the state of the game compared to the 2017 EUROs has changed massively,” said Mead, speaking before the EUROs began.
“For this tournament, there had been something like 450,000 tickets sold [before it started] in comparison to 240,000-odd who attended the EUROs in the Netherlands. It’s more than doubled and I think the women’s game has more than doubled since then, in such a short space of time.
“It’s an exciting prospect to see how well we can do and obviously what it can do for the game in England, as well as the game in general all over the world.
“It’s exciting to see how far it can rise and go in the right direction. I think this is the summer where we can do that, where the women’s game can get to the next level.”
Mead may be just 27 now but she has been playing senior football since 2011 when she was just 16 years old.
Beth Mead on Lionesses Live Connected by EE
Forward joins Joelah Noble and Abbie McCarthy as we bring you behind-the-scenes access
It means the forward has played through a transformative period in the women’s game, going from being part-time while starring for Sunderland to being shown on BBC and Sky Sports screens in houses each week across the country while playing for Arsenal in the Barclays Women’s Super League.
But Mead insists the players will not be settling for where the game is now, as they look to take women’s football to new heights.
Mead said: “I played part-time not even eight or nine years ago for Sunderland and I look back now and the game has jumped massively, but I think sometimes you have to look back and think: ‘Wow, a lot has happened since then.’
“I think as women’s teams and women’s outfits we’ve got better at not settling. We want to keep pushing.
“Yes, the game has jumped leaps and bounds but we still expect more. We still want to push it to the next level and I think that’s one thing recently that’s changed; the expectation and the expectation that we have on the game. We want it to jump to the next level even more so and not settle for what we’re given. So I think it’s really one of the big things recently I’ve seen in the game.”
Mead has been one of the stars of the EUROs this summer, with her match-winning goal against Austria followed by an impressive hat-trick during Monday night’s 8-0 win over Norway, meaning she is currently the tournament’s top scorer.
When Mead was growing up in Hinderwell, North Yorkshire, her bedroom walls included pictures of the iconic Kelly Smith and England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney. Now girls up and down the country are pretending to be Mead as they look to replicate her mazy run against Norway.
“It’d be interesting to see a young girl’s wall now and see who is up there. You’d like to think they have a lot more role models that they can follow and see and aspire to be like,” Mead said.
“For me it’s still quite surreal. I have a conversation a lot with my family and friends and for me, I’m just Beth, I'll always just be Beth. But if I can inspire one young girl then I’m doing my job right.”
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