Women’s cricket changes gear

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Women’s cricket looks to be setting a sponsorship precedent for women’s sport with the announcement today that the ECB have secured a two year deal with KIA for the women’s team.  This is the first time there’s ever been a standalone sponsorship contract for England’s female team, making it a historic, as well as welcome move.

This new deal shows the momentum behind the women’s game at the moment.  With the realisation finally that Charlotte Edwards et al are a strong and competition winning squad, media coverage has increased thanks to Sky and BBC Radio covering many of the matches, which in turn has brought more exposure, which in turn has led to a prominent sponsorship move. Isn’t it amazing what possibilities become open to teams when the media actually cover their games.

So congrats to the England Women’s team, role models not only for the game itself, but for what happens when the media starts to take women’s sport seriously.

And if you’d like to catch the women in action this summer:

Opposition Date Format Venue
India Women 13.8.14 – 16.8.14 Kia Women’s Test Match Wormsley Cricket Ground
India Women 21.8.14 1st Royal London ODI Scarborough Cricket Club
India Women 23.8.14 2nd Royal London ODI Scarborough Cricket Club
India Women 25.8.14 3rd Royal London ODI Lord’s Cricket Ground
South Africa Women 1.9.14 1st NatWest T20I The Essex County Ground, Chelmsford
South Africa Women 3.9.14 2nd NatWest T20I The County Ground, Northampton
South Africa Women 7.9.14 3rd NatWest T20I Edgbaston

FQ

 

Goals for Girls: A story of women with balls

afiche_ENIn the run up to the World Cup 2014 Amnesty International are running ‘Behind the Lines’, a football film festival out in happy old Hackney.  From 6th-8th June Hackney Picture House will be screening thought provoking Football documentaries and panel discussions focusing on the social and political aspects of the beautiful game, looking at the importance of football off the pitch and away from the stadiums.

My ticket is already booked for ‘Goals for Girls: A story of women with balls‘, a documentary looking into the marginalised world of women’s football in Argentina.  The documentary follows the story of young women from the Villa 31 shanty town as they aim to defy society and take part in the Homeless World Cup, looking at the barriers preventing girls from taking part in one of their nation’s biggest sports.  The film is then followed up by a panel discussion with the likes of Sarah Jane Mee and Anna Kessel as well as one of the film’s directors, Ginger Gentile, as they debate all aspects of women’s football.  Should be good!
FQ

Image from goalsforgirlsthemovie.org (thanks!)

Hello old friend

Ah it has been a while.  A while filled with essay deadlines, exam revision, listless staring out of windows and generally wanting to do everything but the task in hand.  It turns out that when it comes to studying you do not grow more accepting with age, just crankier and more in denial.

However now we’re on to the fun stuff, and by fun stuff I mean my dissertation.  Not everyone’s description of fun I know, but having got my lecturers to agree to my title on Sport for Development I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth sunk into it.  It also means I may have time to actually get some blogging done too, there’s about 101 things I’m meant to have written on over the last few months.  So I should probably get cracking…

FQ.

 

Women’s Football Roundup – Week 1 – Here We Go Again

Chelsea Ladies FC v Doncaster Rovers Belles Ladies FC - The FA WSL

It’s happened! We’re 1 week into the new FA WSL season and it’s already miles better than 2013! Why? At least partially because it ACTUALLY STARTED this year. And to think this time a year ago we were suffering through snowed off games. Who ever said global warming was a thing? [Oi - stay on topic! - editor]

Anyway, on a serious note this season may be in its very nascent stages, but it really is shaping up to be something a bit special, because right now it’s proving utterly unpredictable. Event in the depths of its most dramatic moments, last season had the feeling of a fairly predictable turn of affairs, right up to the point where it swept the rug from under everyone’s feet and left Liverpool and Bristol Academy as the top 2. This season…well, we wouldn’t want to be the ones making any predictions.

Notts County Start Strongly

Sure, we may only be days into the new season, but the-team-formerly-known-as-Lincoln-Ladies (or TTFKALL as they like to be known) have made an impressive start to their 2014 campaign. A draw against Arsenal in their opening fixture was probably a fair result, albeit one they were slightly clinging onto come the end of the second half after a tactical rejig by Shelley Kerr at halftime brought Arsenal into the ascendancy, but their two goal victory over Everton, courtesy of Jess Clarke’s brace cemented the new outfit’s impressive early season form. With Ellen White still to come into contention after injury, this may be a team to watch.

Chelsea and Liverpool will duke it out for the title

While the two may have shared a somewhat insipid goalless draw in their respective second outings of the season, these are surely the two sides that will fight it out for the FA WSL crown this season. For Liverpool, this is now well charted territory and they might have made it two victories in two matches but for Gemma Davison’s inability to find the target when well placed early in the second half. For Chelsea, however, the additions of South Korean midfielder Ji So-Yun (perhaps harshly sent off having picked up a second yellow card for diving) and Japanese striker Yuki Ogimi have added a level of nous in attack, while Gilly Flaherty looks an inspired addition in defence. The title winners should emerge from these two teams.

Could Manchester City’s stay in FA WSL 1 be a brief one?

It’s been a tough start to the season for MCWFC. If being drawn away against the league winners in the first match wasn’t hard enough, having to face the runners up in their first home encounter wasn’t exactly a comfortable second step, and a second defeat leaves an awkward record of played 2, lost 2, scored 0, conceded 3. In the strongest mitigating terms, this is a new team still learning to play together and, for the most part, learning what it is to play in the top tier of English football. Unfortunately for City, in an 14 game season there are few chances to claw back lost points. City need a result – any result – on the table and they need it fast.

With a gap of almost a month until their next FA WSL fixtures – the Continental Cup is up next – City have time to gel before their next fixture. That fixture pitches them against an Arsenal side with some work of their own to do this season. It’s never easy in the top flight.

Results

Birmingham 0 – 0 Everton

Notts County 1 – 1 Arsenal

Bristol Academy 0 – 2 Chelsea

Liverpool 1 – 0 Manchester City

Chelsea 0 – 0 Liverpool

Everton 0 – 2 Notts County

Manchester City 0 – 2 Bristol Academy

 

CS

Image from West London Sport – thanks!

City’s Galacticos policy off to encouraging but fruitless beginnings

Liverpool Ladies FC v Everton Ladies FC - The FA WSL

5 quick thoughts on Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City

1. Encouragement aplenty but no end result for City

Manchester City’s FA WSL existence could hardly have got off to a more difficult beginning. Pitched into action away from home to the 2013 champions, few outside of an excitable media following would have naturally anticipated anything but defeat. Even the messages from the City camp over pre-season have been firmly about baby steps – a line they were keen to reiterate in the preliminaries to this evening’s fixture.

On another night, though, they might have come away from this evening with a point and perhaps more, for while the visitors were clearly troubled by Liverpool’s high intensity in the early stages, they showed enough in attack to strike genuine concern into the title favourites. Indeed, Liverpool were indebted to new ‘keeper Libby Stout on numerous occasions keeping them in contention and then ahead after Natasha Dowie’s second half strike. Given that City’s squad have barely taken the field together, this was a start that offered far more than the ’0′ in their points column might indicate.

2. Toni Duggan is blessed with genuine quality

Played on a pitch for which the term ‘cut up’ was invented, City’s new striker showed a level of ingenuity and a deftness of touch to suggest she will be a fixture at the top end of women’s football for years to come. Her appearances for Everton, of course, had suggested as much – but this was a really impressive showing from the England forward, and on a night in which the opposition ‘keeper had been in less sterling form, she may have added to the goals she notched in her FA Cup debut for City at the weekend.

3. Gemma Davison looks a shrewd acquisition for Matt Beard

They may not have been runaway league champions in 2013, but few would argue they didn’t deserve the title. Coming into this season missing the considerable talents of the newly-signed Lucy Staniforth, influential Nicole Rolser and loaned out Louise Fors, questions over the Reds’ penetration would have been justified. Under those terms, the signing of Gemma Davison from Arsenal looks an inspired piece of business. Nominally deployed on the left wing, but given free reign to drift across the forward line, Davison was excellent throughout and caused innumerable problems for City’s defence. While her final ball lacked something – and a relatively poor goal return at Arsenal has been a question throughout her career to date – she might have opened the scoring with a searing shot having from the right just minutes in. Davison possesses occasional magic in her boots and looks a good fit at Liverpool.

4. City’s Galacticos policy is understandable, but perhaps flawed

City’s investment into women’s football has been well documented, but their on-the-pitch acquisitions bear more than a marginal resemblance to the maligned galacticos policy practiced by Real Madrid in the earlier part of the 21st century. While none would argue that City have moved anything except decisively in the transfer market, the matching of international, FA WSL experienced players with others who’ve hardly pulled up trees in previous City incarnations was showed up on occasions this evening. In defence, in particular, new captain Steph Houghton was occasionally left exposed, while only half (at a generous assessment) of their deep-lying players are truly suited to playing the ball out from the back as exhibited in the number of times chances were gifted to Liverpool through sloppy play in the City defensive third. Perhaps an approach of upgrading more generally throughout the team may have borne greater dividends?

One further note on this point; one major summer acquisition, ‘keeper Karen Bardlsey, faces a battle to get into the City lineup on tonight’s evidence. With injury opening the door to backup ‘keeper Andrea Worrell, the Welsh international was sensational, at one point denying Natasha Dowie a seemingly inevitable goal with a smart stop down to her right. Sometimes it’s the unsung players who really stand out.

5. Natasha Dowie could prove to be the difference again this season

Last season’s league top scorer, Natasha Dowie was the difference between an almost-but-not-quite season and the league title for Liverpool in 2013. Her smartly taken goal in the 70th minute decided this tie and, while she ought to have scored much earlier on when clean through, her constant threat in front of goal was in evidence yet again. For all their good football throughout the team, it is the occasionally blunt instrument of Natasha Dowie that puts them a step above their rivals. She is a player to be admired and feared.

(The rest of this week’s FA WSL fixtures will be covered in Monday’s football round-up)

Image from TheFA.com – thanks!

CS