Inside the FIFA World Football Museum presented by Hyundai, there is a quote from pioneering women’s footballer Nettie Honeyball.
“We only play under association rules … and we play for the sake of pure sport only.”
Honeyball said these words in 1895.
The museum, located in Les Halles in the middle of Paris, offers a timely reminder of how long women’s football has been played, and the many obstacles women’s players have faced over the years.
It also charts out the modern era of the women’s game, which began in earnest with the first Women’s World Cup in China in 1991.
From that first tournament, won by the United States, there have been seven more, including this year’s competition taking place over nine cities in France.
The centrepiece of the 2019 World Cup is the FIFA Fan Experience village in Les Halles, which includes the FIFA World Football Museum presented by Hyundai.
The museum is divided into three different parts: the history of women’s football before 1991, the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cups from 1991 to 2015, and the current competition.
The exhibition contains dozens of historical artefacts of women’s football, from boots worn near the turn of the 20th century to the goalkeeper gloves Hope Solo wore during the 2015 World Cup.
In addition, every primary kit from the 24 teams taking part in this year’s competition is on display, along with the World Cup trophy that all of those nations are dreaming of lifting in Lyon on July 7.
Tying the entire exhibition together is a piece of original artwork by acclaimed artist Rachel Gadsden, who used legendary former United States forward Mia Hamm as inspiration for her work.
Hamm was born with a club foot and was told she would not be able to participate in sports as a child. But she fought through adversity to become an Olympic gold medalist, a World Cup winner and one of the greatest strikers in history.
Gadsden’s work is an important reminder of how important it is to overcome obstacles, which, as this museum details, is something that has been vital in keeping women’s football going over all these years.