Women's football is here to stay according to FA and sponsor Mars. That is the message underscored by the pair's creation of a bronze statue dedicated to Lily Parr, the so-called mother of women's football in England.
Tying into the legacy of the women's game, which is currently emerging as an area of growing interest for sponsors including Mars, the FA will unveil a statue of the first "unofficial Lionness" almost 100 years after the first ever women’s football match between players from across England and France.
Notably, with the Fifa Women's World Cup taking place in France this summer, the work is ever more relevant.
Creative agency AMV BBDO helped kickstart Mars' first Women's World Cup activity this cycle, paying homage to outside left winger who scored over 980 goals in her 32-year career. The life-size bronze statue, created by sculptor Hannah Stewart, will be unveiled next month at the National Football Museum.
Parr was reputed to possess one of the most powerful shots in football and Mars will be hoping the statue helps build respect for the game and inspire the Lionesses to victory in France.
Gemma Buggins, Mars brand director, said: “Lily Parr was the heroine of her time in the sporting world. It’s an honour to be able to recognise her and commemorate the inspirational woman that she was.
“With England’s Lionesses preparing for this summer’s tournament, we hope the unveiling of the first ever female footballer statue spurs them on and gives them the motivation to go all the way!”
Marzena Bogdanowicz, head of commercial and marketing, Women's Football at The FA, added: “Women’s football is in a very strong place today with the England team helping us to drive participation and interest at every level. We have come a long way since Lily Parr’s days and she deserves recognition as a true pioneer of the sport.
“Lily Parr was the first woman to enter the Football Hall of Fame, an iconic achievement in itself, so it’s only fitting that she takes her place alongside other football legends and becomes the first woman to be celebrated with a statue in her honour.”
The FA's Bogdanowicz features in the upcoming issue of The Drum's 'Future of Sports' magazine issue. Here she helps outline the booming growth of women's football alongside sponsors, marketers and Manchester City. It will be available here.