The German national team at the end of a Women's EURO 2022 match. / FIFA

Women's football - what comes next?

Despite the growing interest in football for women and the promotion of the newfound stars, the organisation at the grassroots is still poor

ROB PALMER,COMMENTATOR, ESPN

Strolling along the boardwalk close to La Cala, our eyes were drawn to an intense game of beach football just at the right moment. One of the barefooted young players flipped the ball up and volleyed it into the top corner. Bravo!

What was noticeable was that the scorer was the only female player in the knockabout.

Could it be that this was a legacy of the incredibly well-marketed European Championships that are currently taking place? Could it be that the player was inspired by watching some of the best female players on the planet receive television exposure? Or could it be that it's just a talented lass enjoying a kickabout on her holidays? I'm voting for the last suggestion.

Millions of euros and pounds have been invested into the professional game for women. At the very top end, it is paying dividends. Television executives and advertising gurus are fighting to sign up the new poster stars. The top players now have a high-earning capacity and young girls have role models to aspire to.

Barcelona's women's side played in front of 91,553 and 91,648 for the Champions League quarter and semi-finals last season. It's impossible to get a ticket for the Euro Final at Wembley. The women's game has never been more in vogue in Europe.

So this is a pivotal time. What is the legacy? What comes next?

Undoubtedly the stars of the Euros will be in demand for advertising and marketing. Spain only made it to the quarter finals but were encumbered by the loss of Alexia Putellas who is widely regarded as the best player in the world right now.

The danger is that the money which will flow into women's football will only be splashed on the top-end of the game and won't trickle down to the grassroots.

I say above that the women's game has never been more in vogue in Europe. Over in the USA, they have the model to follow. I first started coaching girls' soccer in the 1980s when the canvas was blank. At our summer camps, we had as many girls as boys - and I found them to be more enthusiastic with greater staying power.

The brilliantly organised approach brought the first World Cup success in 1991 and Olympic Gold in 1996. Now, the USA are four-times World Champions, have won four Olympics and nine Gold Cups.

In contrast, I tried to bring an American Under-14's team to Europe a few years ago and really struggled to find any organised opposition. I contacted the big clubs; I tried my pal who was one of the first captains of the England Women's team. I remembered how Carol Thomas joined my Hull City's youth squad for training as there were no local teams.

Despite the growing interest in football for women and the promotion of the newfound stars, the organisation at the grassroots was still poor and hasn't improved noticeably.

So let's invest some of the millions in getting girls playing, so that the flick and volley on the beaches of the Costa del Sol become the norm rather than the exception.