Women’s Sports Column – 26 March – 1 April

kicking offAs you may have noticed, I have been somewhat pre-occupied by a certain cricketing tournament over the last couple of weeks. But now I’m back. I don’t propose to go over what has happened in women’s sport during that time, as you’ll have all caught up with everything via the mainstream press (not), but here’s a glimpse of what has happened this week.

This week’s stories come from cricket (surprise), football, tennis, golf, skating, Commonwealth Games, cycling, netball and the Boat Race.

The Women’s World T20 final will be between holders Australia and surprise finalists West Indies, who beat England and New Zealand respectively, in their semi-finals. You can read all you would like to on the tournament via my website www. https://pennyjhopkins.wordpress.com/ or via http://www.womenssportsuk.com/.

Can’t help thinking it should have been England v New Zealand, but neither played well enough in their semis to justify reaching the final. I’ll leave that there before I start ranting again.

 

The FAWSL is back! I’ve been so busy with the cricket I’ve hardly had time to notice it, but here it is. Manchester City are the early pace-setters with two wins out of two.

Here’s the current league table:

1 Manchester City Women 2 2 0 0 3 0 3 6
2 Chelsea Ladies 1 1 0 0 4 1 3 3
3 Liverpool Ladies 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 3
4 Arsenal Ladies 2 1 0 1 3 3 0 3
5 Sunderland Ladies 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
6 Reading Women 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2 1
7 Birmingham City Ladies 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
8 Notts County Ladies 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
9 Doncaster Rovers Belles 1 0 0 1 1 4 -3 0

In fact there are lots of news stories from football this week – some of them not so good.

There have been claims that Frankfurt fans racially abused Swedish side, Rosengard’s players during their Women’s Champions League quarter-final. Uefa has opened a disciplinary case. The referee had to stop the game to consult with club officials before restarting.

There are also reports that Brazilian star, Marta confronted a fan over the issue. The investigation will report its findings on 5 April.

If found to be true, this is a really disappointing development for women’s football. Many people attend women’s football as a more family-friendly alternative to the aggression inspired by the men’s game. It needs to be stamped out, now.

Another disappointing story (but I’m not comparing them in terms of seriousness) that has appeared this week is that Wales’ women’s team has to wear to men’s shirts!

Surprisingly the Welsh FA didn’t have a comment to put forward on this, but striker Helen Ward said, in an interview with the BBC,

“We’ll wear what we’re given, but it is nice to be wearing a kit that fits and cut the right way,

“It’s really disappointing because a lot of shirts come in women’s sizes.”

Neither are there replica shirts for women who wish to wear a Welsh shirt for the European Championships in the summer. Adidas, suppliers of the Welsh shirts said:

“The shirts on sale are retailed as adult shirts, intended for both male and female fans.”

That’s all right then.

 

Over the pond, there have been big developments in football (or soccer, as they insist on calling it over there).

At a time when the argument over equal pay for women’s sports has been in the spotlight, five members of the USA’s World Cup winning team have filed a complaint against the US Soccer Federation for wage discrimination.

Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo have taken the action is desperation at the fact that they earn less than half of what male US players receive, even though they are current World Cup holders. In Hope Solo’s words:

“We are the best in the world, have three World Cup Championships, four Olympic Championships, and the USMNT [men’s team] get paid more just to show up than we get paid to win major championships.”

A point to realise is, unlike in women’s tennis, it is the women’s game that brings in the money, backing and audience in the US. So by that argument alone, are they not worthy of equal pay?

One might say, with tongue very firmly in cheek, that the male players should go down on their knees and thank the women’s game for its support. (Thanks to Raymond Moore, former Indian Wells CEO for this imagery).

 

Talking of tennis, Johanna Konta has continued her excellent form by reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open, where she was beaten by world number eight, Victoria Azarenka. Konta is the first British woman to reach this stage.

Although she had five break points in the match, she was unable to convert any of them and Azarenka won 6-4 6-2.

Had she beaten Azarenka she would have gone into the world top 20. As it is, she is at an excellent 23.

Heather Watson did not fare so well as she lost in the round of 16 to fifth seed, Simona Halep 6-3 6-4. She had been suffering with a niggling thigh muscle injury which hampered her ability to chase hard.

World number one and defending champion Serena Williams is also out after losing 6-7 6-1 6-2 to fifteenth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.

 

It’s golf time again! In the first women’s major of the year, the ANA Inspiration in California, Scotland’s Catriona Matthew is just one shot off the lead after the opening round.

Scotland’s Catriona Matthew is one shot off the lead after the opening round of the ANA Inspiration, the first women’s major of the year. Ai Miyazato of Japan and Azahara Munoz of Spain are five under, one ahead of Matthew, Shiho Oyama and Lee-Anne Pace. Charlie Hull is three behind the leaders, carding a 70 for her first round.

 

The World Figure Skating Championships are currently taking place in Boston, (Mass., not Lincs.). Britain’s top ice dancers, Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland came a career-best and creditable seventh. They finished ninth in 2014.

The winners were the reigning champions, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron from France with two American pairs, Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates claiming silver and bronze respectively.

 

Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson has expressed a wish that Wales bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

“We just have to be a bit brave and a bit bold and go for it because the Commonwealth Games is a brilliant event,” said Baroness Grey-Thompson.

 

Great news for women’s cycling this week as RideLondon announced a total prize fund of £78,000 for its women’s race 0n 30 July. This is exactly the same as that for the men’s RideLondon-Surrey Classic, which takes place a day later.

Double Olympic Champion Laura Trott has been in the forefront of the campaign for equal prize money.

She says women’s cycling is “getting the recognition it deserves”.

With a month to go, Manchester Thunder appear to be closing on the title in the Netball Superleague. They are three points ahead of the second team, Hertfordshire Mavericks.

The latest round of fixtures, on Saturday 26 March yielded the following results:

Hertfordshire Mavericks 64 40 Team Northumbria
Manchester Thunder 69 51 Team Bath
Yorkshire Jets 39 56 Surrey Storm

 

This year’s Women’s Boat Race took place on Sunday 27 March. Oxford won their fourth in a row as Cambridge nearly sank in the difficult conditions.

Plenty of praise went to the Oxford cox, Morgan Baynham-Williams, who ensured the boat moved across the river to where the conditions were slightly better, but Cambridge should also be given their due for continuing when the easier option would have been to give up and stop.

 

And finally, I could have written double the amount this week, which shows how much women’s sport there is out there, if only we could find any coverage of it… I would like to recommend to you the book I’m reading at the moment – it’s called “Kicking Off – How Women in Sport are Changing the Game” by Sarah Shepherd. The first chapter is basically what I’ve been writing about for the last five years – the cycle of no audience, no sponsorship, no development, no media coverage…. etc, and will make you want to scream. But there are also some wonderfully positive chapters which recognise just how far we’ve come – interviews with greats like Billie-Jean King, Maggie Alphonsi, Chrissie Wellington and others. Read it.

 

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