Millie Bright column: Women's football getting bigger - we want to reach level of men's game

Millie Bright

Chelsea and England defender Millie Bright has been writing columns for the BBC Sport website throughout the summer.

This weekend showed where women's football can go. I hope it excites the fans because it sure does excite the players.

Even our families and friends that attended our first Women's Super League game of the season against Tottenham on Sunday were saying "wow, you're playing at Stamford Bridge" because it's a change from playing at Kingsmeadow.

We are getting bigger and bigger and eventually we want to be at the same level as the men's game in terms of playing in big stadiums more regularly, but we need fans to keep buying in, coming to matches and filling them.

We know it won't happen straight away but we have shown the quality we have got. This is where we have to drive for women's football to grow. We talk a lot about increasing the number of people who attend games but in order to do that we have to be at bigger stadiums.

Even with 25,000 in a 40,000-seater Stamford Bridge I felt there was an atmosphere. I could hear the fans throughout the whole game. When the goal went in it was electric!

It was a really special occasion. It's an honour to know that the club put this on for us. The numbers are only going to grow.

We want more days like this. It will definitely be one to remember for a long time and hopefully it's the start of a silverware season.

'Why I think Chelsea are a driving force for change'

I've always said it's good to have a certain allocation of free tickets because it gets the attention. But now we want the game to move in a direction where more and more fans are buying tickets. It is a business at the end of the day.

First, we had to get the attention of a new audience and I think we did that at the World Cup and have continued it. That's been shown in the crowds that have come out this weekend.

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Watch four stunning goals from the opening weekend of the WSL

At Chelsea, I feel like we are a driving force but we don't just want it to be at this club. We want it to be for the benefit of the whole league.

We are in a position where we don't just have to push Chelsea. We want people to see what we're doing and think "we deserve that as well". That's how you get improvements and make change - it's about people seeing it and making their club change too.

We are pushing for change in women's football and on days like Sunday, you could see it for yourself. It wasn't just about the game but everything leading up to it too - we had face-painting available and fire engines and police cars for kids to try out. There was everything for the fans to make it an entertaining day.

I have big respect for Tottenham because that was their first game in the league and it was a good performance. They put up a fight to the last minute and didn't give up. It shows the progression of the women's game and how it's going to be this season - the toughest yet.

'Why I think Beth can be one of the best in the league'

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England stunner gives Chelsea win over Tottenham

I am so proud of our striker Beth England for her performances recently. She got the goal on Sunday and I thought she played great in her first two games with England.

If there is one player that you can look to for inspiration as someone who has been told "you're probably not going to get there", it's Beth.

She has proven people wrong through hard work and determination. I'm so pleased for her because I have played with her for many years and from a young age at Sheffield United and Doncaster Belles.

You always hold back a little bit when you first get into the England squad because you're getting to know people but as she comes into it more and more, she will relax.

Hopefully she can be the Beth that we know. Once that happens she will be flying on the pitch. If she keeps working hard she will be one of the best in the league.

'People need to be patient with England'

People on the outside don't always know what we are trying to achieve or what we are discussing in the England camp, but it is about being adaptable, progressing and finding a new way of playing.

There are no changes set in stone yet. It hasn't been said that Lucy Bronze will be playing in midfield, we just want to be able to switch things up.

We didn't win our two games recently - drawing 3-3 with Belgium and losing 2-1 to Norway - but they were our first matches after the World Cup so fans need to be patient. We made mistakes but we are not perfect.

It won't be plain-sailing because we are trying new things. They won't come off straight away - that takes time. I don't think it's anything to be worried about. It just came down to sloppiness in the games and mistakes that were made individually.

We have two years until Euro 2021 so it's not about being perfect right now. We have to trust the process and believe we will be ready and firing at the top level in two years' time.

Millie Bright was talking to BBC Sport's Emma Sanders.

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