With the Women's World Cup now well and truly underway, Three Lionesses fan Joseph Lightfoot gives us his first impression of Nice...
Upon arrival at Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, the Women’s World Cup sign is instantly recognisable above all else. A small occupied desk along with a screen signposting a World Cup information centre is the next thing that hits you after being officially allowed into the country.
Outside, scarce atmosphere or indeed advertisement is visible on the city’s outskirts, apart from a few French flags dangling from the balconies of the various hotels and apartments. However, that alone is enough to suggest that the home supporters are carrying a high degree of confidence and expectation ahead of the tournament.
Hotels are doing their bit too. In ours, the reception and breakfast bar are adorned with football decorations; acutely aware their guests may very well be lodging for the Women’s World Cup.
Though publicity in the outskirts is somewhat suppressed, the city centre greatly differs and you will often be sat on a bright blue World Cup bus as you move towards the heart of the action.
The same vehicle journeys past roads filled with World Cup pop-ups reminding the residents and tourists that they can watch England vs Scotland at the Stade De Nice for as little as nine euros. It looks as though a few travelling supporters have gleefully taken to that price. Walking the streets, a handful of England supporters were spotted repping classic 90s shirts.
The local newspaper was dominated by a double-page-spread previewing France’s opening match against South Korea. Magazines and World Cup guides were stocked on the shelves, the tournament, that is already promising great crowds, continuing to be publicised.
It would seem that even workers got caught up in World Cup fever as preparations extended into the late evening to ensure the FIFA Fan Park was ready for the following day. Around the Stade de Nice, interactive games and Coca-Cola vans were semi-constructed and it was clear that work was still to be done.
Ultimately though, the tireless efforts were worth the wait. The highly anticipated fan experience at the beautiful Jardin Albert public park is piled with stalls, bars and inflatable fun in what was the perfect way to start the tournament outside of Paris.
The FIFA fan experience zone was flooded with supporters from various nations gathering to watch the opening ceremony followed by France’s 4-0 win over South Korea. Darts football and a "top-bin" challenge were particular crowd pleasers, making for a family-friendly atmosphere.
Amidst the hundreds of home supporters, it was almost impossible to miss the travelling British fans. Scottish accents could unmistakably be heard in-between the French cheers. England supporters stayed behind long after the final whistle, with the popular "Beth Mead’s on fire" chant followed by some rather questionable dancing.
Staff watched, laughed, and clapped amidst the celebrations and partying, it being abundantly clear how all of Nice has taken every nation into their hearts for the Women’s World Cup.
Joseph Lightfoot (@joe_lightfoot1) is a second year Football Journalism student at the University of Derby who regularly works in a media capacity for Derby County Ladies. Along with 11 of his peers, Joseph will be covering World Cup matches between Nice and Montpellier for a variety of outlets.
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