ENGLAND’S performances at the Women’s World Cup will boost the profile of the game at all levels across Oxfordshire.

That’s the hope of coaches at opposite ends of the spectrum during the tournament in France.

Phil Neville’s Lionesses began their challenge on Sunday, with a 2-1 win against Scotland in Nice, which had 6.1 million viewers on BBC1 – a UK record for a women’s match.

They continue tomorrow night against Argentina and if the third favourites can reach the latter stages, it looks the perfect advertisement to continue the sport’s growth.

Oxford United are the highest-ranked team in the county, finishing fourth this season in the Southern Premier Division of the FA Women’s National League.

Their average home gates last season were about 120, but manager Liam Gilbert believes a strong showing in the World Cup would boost crowds watching his side at Court Place Farm.

“I’d like to think so, that would be brilliant,” he said.

“The more people that get to see the game, the more they appreciate and embrace it.

“If you look at the effect it had on the men’s game last summer when England got to the semi-finals, I think it can only have a similar impact if the women can also get to the latter stages.

“The game is growing quite rapidly and the more positive media attention it receives the better it is for the game.

“It’s more mainstream now.

“The fact the games are on terrestrial TV helps.”

The game received a boost four years ago, when England finished third.

But whereas that edition was held in Canada, having France as hosts will mean more convenient kick-off times for a UK audience.

And it is hoped the impact will be felt at grassroots level.

With 1,300 girls from under eight to under 16 playing across more than 100 teams, the Oxford Mail Girls League is the biggest of its kind in the region.

But Paul Riley, who is acting chair of the league and a coach at Tower Hill Vixens, is aiming to make the most of a big opportunity having seen first-hand what can happen when the side do well.

He said: “Four years ago in the last Women’s World Cup I did some promotion in the local primary schools, then it was just word of mouth.

“We created two new teams at Tower Hill Vixens, which are still going strong.

“So we are hoping this World Cup will get more girls out there playing football.

“In terms of participation, the plan is to double the amount of girls playing in five years.

“That started last year and we have had an increase of ten per cent.

“The World Cup will really help. There can’t be any better advertising really.”