17 April

On this day in 1971 the first official women’s international football match took place as France took on the Netherlands.

Despite the fact that women have been playing football since the very beginning of the sport, it wasn’t given official status by the sport’s governing body, Fifa, until 1971.

During the First World War the famous Dick, Kerr’s Ladies club from Preston, England regularly played to crowds of over 10,000.

And following the War, an incredible crowd of 53,000 turned out on Boxing Day 1920 to watch them take on St Helens Ladies at Goodison Park.

But a huge obstacle was placed before the development of the womens’ game in 1921 when the FA banned their member clubs from hosting women’s matches.

The ban was an almost fatal blow to the popularity of the sport with many clubs disbanding and disappearaing from the history books.

But the Dick, Kerr Ladies refused to give up an kept on playing until well after the Second World War.

During the 1960s there were several attempts to create an international tournament and an unofficial European tournament was played in Italy in 1969 where the home side beat Denmark in the final.

Then in 1970 the French Football Federation voted to recognise women’s teams as full members of the FFF – the first association to take this symbolic step.

And despite the fact that France had played several international matches prior to 1970, including two matches against England, their game against the Netherlands on 17 April 1971 was the first to be recognised by the FFF.

France were comfortable winners beating the Dutch 4-0 in front of a crowd of 1,500 at Hazebrouck, France with Jocelyn Ratignier netting a hat-trick before Marie-Claire Harnant added the fourth.

But despite Fifa’s recognition of this firs women’s match, no international tournament was organised until 1982 when Uefa organised a European tournament in 1982.

Wales had competed in an unofficial tournament in Italy in 1979 finishing bottom of Group D with defeats against Sweden and the Netherlands.

But the womens’ side was not officialy adopted by the Football Association of Wales until 1992 and competed in the European Championship qualifiers for the first time in 1993.

Womens football goes from strength to strength in Wales. In 2012 the senior side achieved their best ever finish in the Algarve Cup and the under-17 and under-19 came within a whisker of qualifying for the Uefa finals for the first time in their history.