Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has backed England to build on their Euro 2022 victory and go into the 2023 World Cup among the favourites to win.
The Lionesses claimed their first senior international trophy by beating Germany at a sold-out Wembley on Sunday – the first silverware for any senior England team, male or female, since 1966.
England have been to the semi-finals at the last two World Cups in 2015 and 2019, falling short in agonisingly late circumstances against Japan and the United States respectively.
Hayes, who is a McDonald’s Fun Football Ambassador, admitted that England had an advantage by being on home soil and will find it different playing overseas in Australia and New Zealand next summer, but it takes nothing away from the ability of the players to do well.
“I think it's fair to say that we were very much favourites at a home tournament, I think having home advantage does give the team an advantage,” she said at a free Fun Football session.
“I think crossing the globe to play in Australia, with the title of European champions adds pressure. But I do think we've got a fantastic group of younger players coming through that can build on the current success. So of course, as European champions, we will go in as one of the favourites."
The success of the summer is not just limited to what England did on the pitch. It is what it means to the continued growth of the sport as a whole and future generations inspired by seeing what could be possible for them in years to come - McDonald's Fun Football registrations spiked 60% in the wake of Chloe Kelly's extra-time winner against Germany.
“I think continuing the legacy for women's football is the day we've waited for for such a long time. For once, we are not going to have to sell the sport short, it will sell itself from here on in.” Hayes said.
“Thank goodness, because as I've said a million times over, we could have sold Wembley out three or four times. And the atmosphere, the generation of fans we will now attract to the sport will be unprecedented. I couldn't tell you what it will look like, all I can say is I'm really excited."
Accessibility to football for the next generation has already been a major talking point in recent days. Currently, nearly 40% of girls don’t have the opportunity to play football in school.
“We just need more and more girls playing the game,” Hayes continued.
“These McDonald’s Fun Football sessions are free and accessible so there is nothing stopping young girls getting involved now.
“Invest to be better, you have to invest! The time is right for women's sport, for women's football, and McDonald’s has been doing this for years. Their Fun Football programme will increase the number of female coaches in the game which is huge and young girls need to see more role models in football. But you have to get it right from the ground up like the other grassroots levels.
“To make sure there is access for young people to play is easy to do, that sport in PE is easy to access, that football in PE is easy to access for all girls across the country and that, hopefully, we develop more females in the game, whether it be coaching, broadcasting... for me, is the next step.”
Emma Hayes was supporting McDonald’s Fun Football which will provide free coaching sessions to one million children and recruit over 100 new women’s coaches over the next four years. Sign up to your nearest session at mcdonalds.co.uk/football