Mary Earps deserved to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year – and her achievement is another moment for women’s football to celebrate.
England and Manchester United goalkeeper Earps is the second successive female footballer to win the iconic accolade, with Beth Mead scooping the prize last year.
To have back-to-back winners is something very powerful – the award is determined by the public and their respective wins are a reflection on how big a mark the women’s game has made over the last two years.
There have been a lot of success stories, but there has also been a lot of hard work done to get our sport got to this point.
There has been a lot of negative comments about Mary’s win and I find that totally disrespectful.
She is a worthy winner, as any of the other athletes on the shortlist would have been, and to suggest otherwise is unfair.
The vote is a democratic process from the public, which in itself, quashes any questions of her being undeserving.
Over the past year, she reached a World Cup final, won the Golden Glove in that tournament and was named the best women’s goalkeeper by Fifa – to name just a few of her achievements.
The hate that she has received, some of which is clearly rooted in misogyny, is a sad reminder, of how women’s football is still so negatively perceived by some.
I know there are people who don’t like women’s football or women in football – and that is their opinion – but it is not one that needs to be spread to the masses in a way that just encourages a pile on.
It may just seem like posting into the abyss of the internet, but those vile comments can leave a lasting impression.
People are entitled to their opinions, but the issue is when players, like Mary who should be celebrating one of the proudest moments of her career, are targeted with vile abuse.
We need to keep challenging those prejudiced narratives by pushing women’s football, and women’s sport, in the right direction.
Sport plays such an important role in our society – it is something that we love doing and love watching – and moments like Mary and Beth’s wins should reflect how fulfilling it is.
It is great to see individual players and women’s football get recognition on some of the biggest stages.
Rebecca Welch set to make refereeing history
History will be made on Saturday when Rebecca Welch becomes the first woman to referee an English Premier League match when she officiates Fulham v Burnley.
It is something you may have expected to have happened by now, but football has fallen behind compared to other sports in regards to opening doors and creating opportunities for women.
Rebecca has led the way for female referees and is something of a trailblazer – and if it wasn’t for opening those doors other women may not have had certain opportunities.
It will be a huge day for her and I hope she has a good game. I am sure she is feeling the pressure, like any other referee does, because those in the Premier League face so much scrutiny.
It is a minefield and, because she is a woman, I am sure she will be put under a bigger spotlight, but, hopefully, she will have receive the support to better deal with that.
Rebecca is more than equipped to referee in the Premier League. She is a top official and has officiated men and women’s games at club levels and at major international tournaments, like the 2023 World Cup.
I think this milestone is brilliant because it is another avenue where we can see women are getting their deserved opportunities in football.