Last night was heartbreaking for England’s Lionesses as they crashed out of the Women’s World Cup. However, it wasn’t all bad news the match with USA brought in 11.7 million viewers in the UK, making it the most watched television programme of the year so far.

Those figures prove that, although they didn’t quite reach the final, the Lionesses have won in a different way. Phil Neville’s team have captured the hearts of the nation, many of whom tuned in to cheer them on throughout the tournament.

As the tournament progressed, more and more people were tuning in for each Lionesses game. Considering the opening match against Scotland drew in a then record audience for women’s football of six million, it’s incredible to see that audience nearly double in the space of three weeks.

At this stage, women’s football is still in it’s infancy, but it is growing fast. Just four years ago at the last World Cup, they were still playing two games per day in the same stadium to improve attendance figures. The women’s game has come so far in the last World Cup cycle, and by the time we reach the next one in 2023, it will only have grown further.

With the Olympic Games to come next summer in Tokyo, followed by the European Championships in 2021 here in the UK, it’s a very exciting time. Fortunately, England’s success at the World Cup means that Team GB will definitely be present at the Olympics next summer.

With England’s fantastic play, phenomenal attitude and iconic personalities, girls across the nation have been inspired by the Lionesses this summer. As I said earlier, they may not have won the World Cup this summer, but they’ve done something far greater – they’ve inspired a generation.