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History of women’s football in Britain IELTS General Reading
READING PASSAGE -3
History of women’s football in Britain
Womens’ football in Britain has deeper roots than might be expected. In one town in 18th- century Scotland, single women played an annual match against their married counterparts, though the motives behind the contest were not purely sporting. Some accounts say that the games were watched by a crowd of single men, who hoped to pick out a potential bride based on her footballing ability.
By the late 19th century, with the men’s game spreading across Britain like wildfire, women also began to take up association football. Early pioneers included Nettie J Honeyball, who founded the British Ladies’ Football Club (BLFC) in 1895. Honeyball was an alias: like many of the middle- and upper-class women who played in the late 19th century, she was not keen to publicise her involvement with a contact sport played on muddy fields. We know more about Lady Florence Dixie, who was appointed president of the BLFC in 1895 and who was an ardent believer in equality between the sexes. ielts-reading.com
The BLFC arranged games between teams representing the north and the south of England, where money would be raised for those in need. These initially attracted healthy numbers of supporters although early newspaper reports were not particularly generous, with one reporter suggesting ‘when the novelty has worn off, I do not chink women’s football will attract the crowds’. And crowds did drop off as the growing popularity of the men’s game came to dominate public interest. In a country where women were not yet allowed to vote, it would take extraordinary circumstances for their efforts on the football pitch to attract widespread attention.
Those circumstances arose in 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War. With many men leaving their jobs to join the army, women started to work in factories and just as men had done before them, they began to play informal games of football during their lunch breaks. After some initial uncertainty, their superiors came to see these games as a means to boost morale and thus increase productivity. Teams soon formed and friendly matches were arranged. ielts-reading.com
In the town of Preston in the north of England, the female workers at a manufacturing company called Dick, Kerr & Co showed a particular aptitude for the game. Watching from a window above the yard where they played, office worker Alfred Frankland spotted their talent and he set about forming a team. Under Frankland’s management, they soon drew significant crowds to see their games. Known as Dick, Kerr’s Ladies, they beat rival factory Arundel Coulthard 4-0 on Christmas Day 1917, with 10,000 watching at Preston stadium.
After the war ended in 1918 the Dick, Kerr’s side and other women’s teams continued to draw large crowds. In 1920 there were around 150 women’s sides in England and Dick, Kerr’s Ladies packed 53,000 into Everton’s Goodison Park stadium. The same year, the team found their one true genius: Lily Parr. Parr grew up playing football with her brothers, and began her career with her town’s ladies’ team at the age of 14.
When they played against the Dick, Kerr’s side, she caught Frankland’s eye and was offered a job at the factory – as well as a spot on the team. Close to six-feet tall and with jet-black hair, she had a ferocious appetite and a fierce left foot. She is credited with 43 goals during her first season playing for Dick, Kerr’s Ladies and around 1,000 in total. IELTS-Reading
By 1921 Dick, Kerr’s Ladies were regularly attracting crowds in the tens of thousands. But the year ended in catastrophe for the women’s game. The Football Association (FA) – officially the governing body for the sport as a whole, but really only concerned with men’s competitions — had always taken a poor view of female participation. Women’s football was tolerated during the war, but in the years that followed, driven by the fear that the women’s game could affect Football League attendances, the FA sought to assert itself.
Its solution was decisive and brutal. On 5 December 1921, the FA banned its members from allowing women’s football to be played at its grounds, saying that football was ‘quite unsuitable for females’. The FA also forbade its members from acting as referees at women’s games. To all intents and purposes, women’s football in England was outlawed.
The FA also suggested that an excessive proportion of the gate receipts were absorbed in expenses and an inadequate percentage devoted to charity. No such obligation to donate profits existed for men’s clubs and no proof of financial mismanagement was presented, but there was little the women’s clubs could do in response.
There was outrage from players, with the captain of Plymouth Ladies remarking that the FA was ‘a hundred years behind the times’ and calling its decision ‘purely sex prejudice’.
It was not until 1966 that serious efforts to revive the women’s game began, but progress remained painfully slow. It took pressure from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), to finally force the FA to end restrictions on women’s football in 1971. By this time, half a century of progress had been lost. ielts-reading
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
28. In the first paragraph, the writer says that in 18th-century Scotland
A only unmarried women were allowed to play football.
B women’s football was more common than men’s football.
C women were sometimes forbidden to watch football matches.
D skill at football might be considered when choosing a wife.
29. The writer says that Nettie J Honeyball was unwilling to
A take an active part in team sports.
B mix with people she considered lower class.
C let the public know of her involvement in football.
D take a leadership role in the British Ladies’ Football Club.
30. The writer suggests that in Britain, between 1895 and 1914,
A society was not yet ready for women’s football.
B there were false reports of the decline of women’s football.
C the media felt that women’s football should not be allowed.
D women’s football mainly attracted people because it was unusual.
31. After the First World War broke out in 1914, factory managers
A were initially unwilling to employ women.
B played in matches against female employees.
C allowed extra time for their employees to play football.
D decided that women’s football might have positive effects.
Look at the following statements (Questions 32-37) and the list of football organisations below.
Match each statement with the correct organisation, A, B, C or D.
NB You may use any letter more than once.
32. It felt threatened by the rise of women’s football.
33. It was established by a male office worker.
34. It donated money from football matches to good causes.
35. It called for the ending of the ban on women’s football in Britain.
36. It was accused of being old-fashioned.
37. It was led by a believer in women’s rights.
List of Football Organisations
A. the British Ladies’ Football Club (BLFC)
B. the Dick, Kerr’s Ladies team
C. the Football Association (FA)
D. the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)
Complete the summary below.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the text for each answer.
A Catastrophic Year for Women’s Football
At the end of 1921, women’s football teams were forbidden to use the 38 ____________ of the Football Association, and were not allowed to have Football Association members as 39 ____________ The FA said that women’s clubs did not give enough to charity, and that there had been mismanagement of funds. Female workers accused the FA of 40 ____________ against women, but the ban continued until 1971.
History of women’s football in Britain IELTS Reading Answers