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Girls around England inspired to play football by Lionesses' success

A record audience watched England reach the semi-final stage of the Women's World Cup.

Parents have been sharing stories of how England’s success and visibility at the Women’s World Cup has inspired their daughters to take up the sport.

The Lionesses beat Norway 3-0 to progress to the semi-final stage in France, and ahead of the quarter-final on Thursday, parents shared their stories online.

Joanna Noble, from Kingswinford in the West Midlands, posted a picture of her daughter Lily Noble in her football kit and told PA: “The impact in our house has been huge.

“Both Lily’s brother and her dad play and coach football and it’s been around her all her life, but the high visibility of the Lionesses and their success has been what’s inspired Lily to want to play herself. It’s wonderful to see.”

England’s quarter-final win was viewed by a record 7.6 million people in the UK, as Phil Neville’s side repeated its 2015 feat by reaching the last four.

And while the number of girls playing football still lags behind the number of boys, the FA’s “game plan for growth” in the women’s game has seen a 15.9% year-on-year increase in girls-only mini-soccer teams, a form of the game which covers age groups up to under-10.

Jess Parker, 11, has played football for four years and was inspired by a recent meeting with England’s Lucy Bronze, who Neville has described as the best player in the world.

“Jess was incredibly honoured to meet her hero Lucy Bronze on a recent visit to St George’s Park,” her dad, David Parker, told PA.

“All were so welcoming and inspiring. She left with a smile that couldn’t be shaken. Thank you to an amazing group of inspirational women and a backroom team at the FA that made this dream come true.”

Peyton Shipton, five, from Essex, has also been inspired to join a football team after watching the Lionesses’ success.

Her mother, Louise Teenans, said: “She has watched every game and said the Lionesses are proving football is not just for boys, but girls can play too. Her fave is Toni Duggan.”

This year’s competition in France is the eighth edition of the Fifa Women’s World Cup, with the inaugural competition taking part in China in 1991 more than 60 years after the men’s tournament began.

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