Smiley Movement logo

A journey of triumph in women's football

Words by Smiley Team

Photo credit: Paul Watts, Solent University 

Women’s football is enjoying a surge in attention as we celebrate the Women's Euro – in a win for gender equality.

And, in a bid to shine a light on how much has been achieved in this area, a documentary on a story of gender inequality in the 1970s within the world of football was screened at Solent University, Southampton on Monday 4 July.  

MA Sports Broadcast journalism graduate and producer, Leanne Goodall, created 'Trailblazer' inspired by Sotonian Louise Cross, documenting her journey to playing internationally – within an England women's team in the 70s – as well as what happened next. 

In 1971, at the time Louise and her teammates played, a 50-year FA ban on women’s football had just been lifted and, with little support, female footballers in England had barely any facilities. They often had to play their games in parks.

“We can only appreciate what's happening in women's football today if we understand its difficult past,” Leanne tells Smiley News

[Sign up here to receive a weekly dose of positive news in your inbox]

“Louise's story, that of the 'Lost Lionesses', has been largely untold," says Leanne. "Louise missed out on many years of her footballing life because of attitudes towards female football and it can be argued that professional football for women was delayed by a similar time frame.

“By sharing stories like this we connect the past, present and future and have the opportunity, and understanding, to create real, positive change for a brighter future in female football and beyond."

Celebrating and recognising women in sport

Leanne’s film celebrates and recognises Louise and her teammates for the important part they played in the history of women’s football. “Louise grew up in a time when society largely dictated that women and girls shouldn't play football at all – yet it was the one thing that she truly loved,” says Leanne. 

Now, Louise has finally been able to share her story – something that's been mostly hidden for 50 years – and come back to women's football. 

“What the film really does is looks to recognise and celebrate Louise's part in the history of women's football and shows how she now inspires the next generation of female players,” adds Leanne. 

Trailblazer gives visibility to female footballers of the past. “It shows people that women's football is not a new phenomenon and that incredible, huge achievements have been made by players like Louise. Sharing the 'Lost Lionesses' story through Louise's eyes allows people to connect with the sport's past and gain a new appreciation for moving forwards.”

Trailblazer will be held in the archives of Southampton SeaCity Museum from this July. It is part of the work on the Southampton Stories exhibition which aims to document the city's part in the history of women's football.

Inspired to act?

GET INVOLVED: If you want to encourage more young girls into sport, become a Big Sister mentor.

DONATE: To support more projects like Big Sister and encourage women and girls to keep active, donate to Women in Sport.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

You might also like…