Written by Mike Pratt
After following the England women's football team (The Lionesses) this week competing in this years FIFA World Cup in Canada, it is great to see our girls quality for the quarter finals last night.
Apart from that it got me thinking about how the standard of women's football has really improved very quickly over the past few years.
Then my wife asked me an interesting question that got me curious, in fact curious enough to write this article.
The question was: "How do I think the Women's England team would fair up against the men's England Team."
Now I am very familiar with working with top premier league footballers as a strength and conditioning coach in the past and at club level at Leeds United FC so I have a firm understanding of the physical and technical factors of the game. So I thought about it primarily from a basic and simple understanding of the physical differences of men and women, although I have to say I have no actual experience working with women's football, but do have experience working with female athletes in other sports.
The main physiological advantages for men, are a lower body fat percentage, greater muscle mass and strength and the production of more efficient red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body, which provide an aerobic advantage. These basic natural physical advantages men have over women, are born out of the fundamental difference between men and woman and that is Hormones, quite simply women have less testosterone and more oestrogen.
It is reported in studies that men also have a different muscle composition to women which is more type II muscle fibres, the ones responsible for strong and explosive movements, in fact in one study at McMaster University in Ontario is is suggested that women are 52 percent as strong as men in upper body and 66 percent in lower body which can be mainly put down to larger fibres. After acknowledgement of the natural advantage men have over women in terms of strength, speed and power, then we look at endurance where again men have an advantage in that they have a larger lung capacity to deliver more oxygen to the muscles and also a key factor is they also have more haemoglobin which is a molecule that transports oxygen in the blood, giving men an endurance advantage.
I have not acknowledged the importance of certain things that can't be measured outside of the unfair biological and physical advantages men have, such as drive, passion, skills, tactics and team work, however from what I have just outlined based on the basic physical differences I would have to answer the question that is highly unlikely that the women's England football team would fair to well against the men's team. Maybe, one day we could see women eventually close the biological gap through training methods, supplementation and with the help of sports science, why not?
I think in concluding my thoughts on the question, what I have found myself doing since watching and supporting the England women's team this week is ask myself a more important question and that it who cares? As for myself, I see women’s football and men’s football as separate sports. So the discussion about which is better or who would win is irrelevant because women's football is football and these players that I am watching are great athletes and great footballers regardless of them being male or female..