Lionesses star Ellen White is relishing the opportunity of playing in front of a huge crowd at Brighton’s Amex Stadium in England’s final World Cup warm-up game.
The Road to France series ends in Brighton when the Lionesses meet New Zealand on 1st June in appropriate fashion, as tens of thousands of fans will have the chance to wave Phil Neville’s World Cup hopefuls off.
The Amex is more used to hosting Premier League football than international matches, but did see the Lionesses beat Montenegro 9-0 in a World Cup qualifier back in 2014.
And White thinks that giving the women’s game the platform to play in front of bigger crowds has come just at the right time as the European boost in coverage continues to ramp up ahead of the tournament.
She said, “It is so exciting that so many people are calling for women’s football to be played in bigger stadiums and if we have that demand for it and we can fill those seats then that is great.
“All over the world, women’s teams are selling out men’s stadiums and if we can do that in this country to promote our own game, then that is awesome.
“The FA Cup final had around 43,000 fans at Wembley so if we can get between 20,000 and 30,000 supporting us at the Amex, that would be such a good send off for us.
“We need to project women’s football out there to people that want to come and watch it and show them that we are doing it in Premier League stadiums now.”
White will arrive in France as one of the more experienced heads in Phil Neville’s squad alongside younger teammates such as Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway, both of whom scored at Wembley in Manchester City’s FA Cup win over West Ham United.
The 29-year-old is thrilled with what she is seeing at the moment as increased funding and a shift to full-time professional status has allowed many clubs to focus on the development of young players and the Lionesses are reaping the rewards.
The healthy blend of youth and experience in the former Everton and Manchester United player's ranks could be a winning formula but whatever happens in France, White is optimistic about the new wave of players in this country.
“We had some unbelievable players in the team when I first joined and it was a privilege when I earned by debut but the team has grown so much now in terms of professionalism.
“Back then many of the team had part-time jobs and now we are training day-in day-out which is great.
“There is a lot of youth in this squad, but also a lot of experience with players that have had experiences at major tournaments, so we have a fantastic balance.
“Keira [Walsh] is now an established player and Georgia [Stanway] has been with us for over a year now, and I am so proud to be able to watch them do so well on the big-stage, and it will only bode well for the English game and the FA WSL – the future is very bright for women’s football.”
England Women host New Zealand in a ‘Road to France’ international on Saturday, 1 June at Amex Stadium, Brighton, KO 1pm. Tickets are available now, priced at just £10 for adults and £1 for over-65s/under-21s. Click here to secure your seats.