Women’s Sports Column 22-28 October

mount-everest-413_640

It’s that time again – more women’s sports news than you can shake a stick at.   This week we have stories from cycling, cricket, football, tennis, rugby, horse racing, boxing and golf.  Also some sad news in “And finally”, but hopefully it will also give us the chance to recognise some particular achievements from a very particular woman.

Cycling

There were more medals for Britain’s women in the European Track Championships in Paris.  The day two tally stood at three.

Katie Archibald won two golds to add to her silver in the elimination race.  In the individual pursuit she finished four seconds ahead of her opponent, Justyna Kaczkowska, from Poland

She had already posted a personal best in qualifying.

Then she won her second gold in two nights as she took the omnium title with Dutch rider Kirsten Wild in second and Lottie Kopecky from Belgium in third.

Emily Kay and Emily Nelson won silver in the Madison.  They lay fourth with just 10 laps to go when they took maximum points in the final sprint to take the silver.  The winners were Lotte Kopecky and Jolien D’Hoore of Belgium.

In other events Elinor Barker finished fifth in the points race, but Rachel James fell in the final of the keirin.

Horse racing

 Josephine Gordon has become only the third woman to become Champion Apprentice jockey.

But it’s good to see her ambitions do not rest there.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“I think in the next 15 years there will be a woman who becomes champion jockey,

“Hopefully it will be me. At this time, it’s probably quite unrealistic for me but that would be the biggest dream. I didn’t think I could achieve being champion apprentice.”

Female winners of the Champion Apprentice Jockey:

2005 Hayley Turner (tied with Saleem Golam) – 44 wins

2012 Amy Ryan – 40 wins

2016 Josephine Gordon – 50 wins

Football

Scottish football

Glasgow City Ladies have been crowned Scottish Women’s Premier league champions for the tenth successive season.

They only needed a point to ensure the title stayed at the Excelsior Stadium, but it was clear they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than a win.  This they accomplished, defeating Hibernian Ladies 3-1.  Sarah Crilly opened the scoring after ten minutes and the lead was doubled when Savannah McCarthy headed a second.

Claire Shine put the tie past Hibs with the third before the away side pulled back a consolation goal through Siobhan Hunter.

Glasgow City could still make it a league and cup double when they face Hibs again in the Scottish Cup final on 6 November.

 Scotland 0-7 Netherlands

Scotland began their warm-ups for next year’s Euros with a crushing defeat against Netherlands in a friendly at Livingston.

Bayern Munich striker Vivianne Miedema got the first, but there were no further scores until first-half stoppage time when first Lineth Beerensteyn and then Miedema with her second put the visitors 3-0 up going into the break.

It was more of the same in the second-half with Scotland rarely venturing up the field.  On 66 minutes Netherlands made it four when Renee Slegers poked in, and then it was five through Ellen Jansen.

Scottish goalkeeper, Shannon Lynn was injured in the scoring of the fifth and had to be substituted with Gemma Fay taking over.

But things did not improve as the Netherlands put another two past the home side, Shanice van de Sanden scoring the sixth and Jackie Groenen the seventh to make it a thoroughly miserable night for the Scots.

 English football

By contrast, the Lionesses have seen their unbeaten run stretch to nine matches with two decent performances in friendlies against France and Spain this week.

 England 0-0 France

England knew the visitors would provide a tough test and so it transpired.  It was a tight first half of few chances, with England’s Lucy Bronze having the best, but she headed wide from a free kick.

The second half was equally tense with both defences on top and neither able to break the deadlock.  Toni Duggan did put the ball in the net but was adjudged to have used her hand in the build-up.

It was a good defensive display, but up front England lacked bite.  France were not fielding a full-strength team and Mark Sampson will be aware that, certainly in attack, France will be much more of threat in the Championships next summer.

 Spain 1-2 England

Spain may some way below England in the world rankings, but they are always a tough opponent, particularly at home.

England took the lead when a shot (or possible cross) from Karen Carney was deflected into the net by Marta Torrejon Moya.

England captain Steph Houghton then curled in a peach of a free-kick to double the lead.

Torrejon pulled one back, but England held on for the win.

Off the Pitch

Arsenal Ladies have announced that their three Spanish players, striker Natalia and midfielders Marta Corredera and Vicky Losada, are to leave the club at the end of the season.

Corredera has signed for Atletico Madrid, but both Losada and Natalia have not yet revealed their new clubs, although Natalia said on social media that she was looking for a new challenge in Madrid.

Losada and Corredera had been at Arsenal for just one season, while Natalia signed from Bristol Academy in December 2014.

The FA has announced it aims to double the number of women involved in football by the end of the decade.

FA Chief Executive, Martin Glenn, announced that the women’s game is the “prime candidate” for investment.

There is due to be a statement on an FA Cup TV deal worth more than £800m over six years.

The FA also helps that moving the FAWSL from summer to winter will improve coverage and gates.

My favourite line of the interview is with reference to England’s third place at the 2015 World Cup

“Unusually for an England team, we overperformed at a tournament.”

For that sentence alone I applaud the FA’s thinking.  But, and I’ve said this many times before, the announcements, initiatives and money have to be backed up with ongoing support.

He says all the right things; breaking down barriers, changing perceptions, getting support from parents and clubs, but the talk is not enough.

I implore the FA not to just fling money at the situation and hope that some of it sticks – back up your monetary input with time, personnel, expertise and anything else women’s football needs to actually come through with the targets.  Don’t expect money alone to do the job.

Cricket

The England squad for the Sri Lanka tour has been announced.

There is a recall for middle-order batter Fran Wilson.  Sophie Ecclestone is unavailable due to school commitments and Anya Shrubsole is still recovering from her neck injury and is not included.

Before they reach Colombo the squad will be in Abu Dhabi for a six day training camp that will also include some of the England Senior Academy.

England will play four ODIs in Sri Lanka, the final three of which will count towards the ICC Women’s Championship.

England squad:

Heather Knight, captain (Berkshire)
Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire)
Georgia Elwiss (Sussex)
Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire)
Alex Hartley (Middlesex)
Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire)
Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
Beth Langston (Yorkshire)
Laura Marsh (Kent)
Natalie Sciver (Surrey)
Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
Fran Wilson (Middlesex)
Danielle Wyatt (Sussex)

Additional player for Abu Dhabi camp

Georgia Adams (Sussex)
Kate Cross (Lancashire)
Alice-Davidson-Richards (Kent)
Sophia Dunkley (Middlesex)
Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
Georgia Hennessy (Warwickshire)
Hannah Jones (Surrey)
Emma Lamb (Lancashire)
Bryony Smith (Surrey)

Sri Lanka fixtures:

9 November – 1st ODI (Sinhalese Sports Club)
12 November – 2nd ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium)
15 November – 3rd ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium)
17 November – 4th ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium

South Africa v New Zealand series

At the point of last week’s column, New Zealand had taken an unassailable 4-1 lead with two games to go.  Here’s what happened in the last two matches:

22 October Paarl

South Africa pulled one back in the sixth game in Paarl.  In a rain-affected game reduced to 39 overs, South Africa won the toss and put New Zealand in to bat.  This proved to be a good decision as they skittled out the tourists for 130 in 33.3 overs.  Katey Martin provided sole resistance with 65 not out with Masabata Klaas taking 3/32 off eight overs and Moseline Daniels and Odine Kirsten two each.

South Africa replied in sensible fashion and reached their target with eight balls to spare.  Top scorer was Mignon du Preez with 44 and South Africa won by five wickets.

24 October Paarl

New Zealand were not to be outdone though and won the seventh match in Paarl by 126 runs.  Suzie Bates won the toss and batted.  They posted an excellent 273/7 off their 50 overs with Katey Martin again starring with 81.  She was well supported by Amy Satterthwaite with 53 and Maddy Green with 46.

This was too stiff a target for South Africa to chase and they were all out for 147 in 45.5 overs.  Joint top scorers were Lizelle Lee and Odine Kirsten with 22.  The bowling damage was done by Erin Bermingham with 3/18 off 10 with Lea Tahuhu 2/36 off 7 and Satterthwaite 2/15 off 4.5.

New Zealand took the series 5-2.

Tennis

WTA Finals in Singapore

We now know three of the four quarter-finalists in the WTA Finals in Singapore.

In the red group Angelique Kerber has finished top with three wins from three, with Dominika Cibulkova in second.

In the white group Svetlana Kuznetsova has qualified with the final place to be decided between Agnieszka Radwanska and Karolina Pliskova, who play each other in the last round robin game on Friday.

Semi-final line-up

Kuznetsova v Cibulkova

Kerber v Radwanska or Pliskova

Off the court

British number one, Johanna Konta, has won the WTA award for Most Improved Player 2016.  It has indeed been a breakthrough year for Konta; reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January and then winning her first WTA Tour title at Stanford in June.

Her rise through the rankings has been marked; in 2015 she was at 147 in the world.  This year she has made it has high as ninth and is currently tenth.

The WTA Player of the Year award went to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.  She is currently world number one and won her first and second Grand Slams (Australian and US) this year.  She won a silver medal at Rio and was runner-up to Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

In other news, Maria Sharapova has been excluded from the WTA singles rankings as she has not competed in enough tournaments in 2016 to be eligible for a ranking.

She will return to the rankings after she has served her ban and has played three tournaments next year.

Boxing

Irish boxer Katie Taylor will make her professional boxing debut in November.

She has signed a professional contract with Matchroom boxing and will appear at the SSE Arena, Wembley on 26 November.

The fight will be live on Sky Sports.

Taylor has been considering her options for some time after failing to win an Olympic medal in Rio.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said,

“Today marks a significant day for our sport with the news that Katie is joining the professional ranks,

“She is one of the most decorated amateur boxers of all time and a public icon in Ireland. I met Katie for the first time last week and was fascinated by her desire to not just win world titles but to break down the barriers of women’s boxing; she is an incredible role model.”

Golf

Blue Bay LPGA tournament (China)

After leading from the off, Australian Minjee Lee duly took the title at the Blue Bay tournament at the weekend.   She carded a final round 70 to finish on -13, winning by just one shot from USA’s Jessica Korda.

Third was Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, with her compatriot Pornanong Phatlum tying with Caroline Masson of Germany for fourth.

Britain’s Charley Hull finished a further place back in sixth on -5.

Rugby Union

It was round six of the Women’s Premiership last weekend.  Bristol are looking nigh-on invincible as they won again, but the chasing pack haven’t given up as the weekend saw wins for second placed Lichfield and another big win for Worcester Valkyries who lie in third.

Results were as follows:

Wasps Ladies 19-66 Worcester Valkyries
Richmond Women 27-33 Bristol Ladies
Lichfield Ladies 42-16 DMP Sharks
Saracens Women 15-31 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

For a more detailed review of last weekend’s game please read my report for WSUK here.

New Zealand Black Ferns 67-3 Australia Wallaroos

This is a massive result, and not just by number of points for New Zealand as they continue to dominate their antipodean neighbours.

They scored 11 tries to nil in their 14th consecutive victory over the Wallaroos.

Full back Selica Winiata scored four tries and Kendra Cocksedge a try and four conversions.  The Kiwis were 31-3 up at half-time and there was no way back.

Ash Hewson put over a solitary penalty for the visitors.

There is a great deal of argument in Australia at the moment regarding the clash of Sevens v fifteens.  There has been plenty of comment that Australia is guilty of concentrating their efforts and resources in the shorter form to the detriment of the full game.  This may have brought home the Rio gold in Sevens, but Australia hadn’t played a full test since 2014.  And seeing this score, it’s no wonder the comments have been made.

And finally,         

And finally, the death was announced this week of Junko Tabei.   Not heard of her?  Neither had I.

But Tabei was the first woman to climb Mount Everest.

The Japanese climber had been suffering with cancer and died in a hospital near Tokyo at the age of 77.

Tabei was the first to reach the summit of Everest in 1975 when she was 35.  She was part of a 15 strong party – all women.  When they left, she said, they faced criticism,

“We were told we should be raising children instead.”

In the end she did both, carrying on family life and climbing in parallel.

She founded the Ladies Climbing Club of Japan, which had the slogan, “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves.”  No mean feat for women living in a restrictive Japanese society.

In 1992 she became the first woman to climb the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on the seven continents.

By 2008 she had climbed the highest mountains of 56 countries.

But she was also involved in environmental campaigning, was a major voice in the campaign for sustainable mountaineering and was the Chair of the Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan, which is dedicated to the protection of mountain environments.

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Women’s Sports Column 15-21 October

wembley

Welcome to this week’s Women’s Sports Column.  Plenty of news again this week with stories from football, rugby, cricket, tennis, golf and cycling. As usual I say, who knew all this was going on?  No-one if you stuck to the mainstream media outlets……

Football

FAWSL1

Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-2 Notts County Ladies

Doncaster Rovers Belles’ relegation was confirmed on Sunday as they lost at home 2-1 to Notts County Ladies.

A crowd of 820 passionate, mainly Donny fans were there to see their side slump to their fourteenth straight loss.

Doncaster took the lead in the seventh minute through Carla Humphrey, currently on loan from Arsenal, but they could neither add to nor defend the lead.

The Lady Pies equalised through Aileen Whelan on 22 and just three minutes later, County’s star striker, Jess Clarke curled a spectacular effort into the top corner to go ahead.

Neither side could add to the scoring in the second half and the Belles’ fate was confirmed.

Belles manager, Emma Coates, was still upbeat after the game.  In an interview with the FAWSL website she said,

“We’ve learned lessons this year so that if we come back up we’ll do it the right way, the Belles way and learn from what we’ve done wrong.

“Maybe we’ve been naïve in the past but we didn’t come up as champions, it’s even tougher coming up in second and we had a big turnover of players over a short space of time. I want to keep this team together and build something long term.”

Champions League

Manchester City have been drawn against Danish side Brondby in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The first leg, which will be in Manchester, will be on 9 or 10 November, with the return fixture on 16 or 17 November.

The full draw for the last 16:

Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) v BIIK-Kazygurt (KAZ)

Barcelona (ESP) v FC Twente (NED)

Slavia Prague (CZE) v Rosengard (SWE)

Manchester City (ENG) v Brondby (DEN)

Brescia (ITA) v Fortuna Hjorring (DEN)

Lyon (FRA) v FC Zurich (SUI)

Eskilstuna United (SWE) v Wolfsburg (GER)

Bayern Munich (GER) v Rossiyanka (RUS)

Under 17s Women’s World Cup

The final of the Under 17s Women’s World Cup will be between North Korea and Japan and will take place at the Amman International Stadium on Friday 21 October at 6pm GMT.

In the semi-finals, which were played on Monday 17 October, North Korea beat Venezuela by three goals to nil, whilst in the other Japan beat Spain by the same scoreline.

The third place play-off, between the two beaten semi-finalists, will be on Friday 21 October at 3pm GMT.

Details of the results of the two matches will be in next week’s column.

FA Cup

It was announced this week that Wembley will continue to host the Women’s FA Cup beyond 2017.

How far we’ve come!  Previous venues have included Dunstable Town FC and Glanford Park, home of Scunthorpe United.

The prize money for the 2016-17season has been tripled to £27,000 (still considerably less than some male footballers are on per week).

Tickets for the 2017 final will, as they were this year, be free for children.

Signing

Arsenal have re-signed Scotland midfielder Kim Little from Seattle Reign.

She will re-join ahead of the 2017 season (due to shift to winter), but the Gunners have not specified the length of her contract.

England Women’s Player of the year 2016

The shortlist for the award has been revealed:

Steph Houghton

Jordan Nobbs

Karen Carney

Jill Scott

Young Player of the Year shortlist:

Millie Bright

Danielle Carter

Alex Greenwood

Nikita Parris

Winners will be announced at the FA Women’s Football Awards on Friday 18 November.

Rugby

Women’s Premiership

It was round five of the Women’s Premiership last weekend and the top two met at Bristol.

The results were as follows:

Wasps Ladies 15-55 Saracens Women

Worcester Valkyries 36-13 DMP Sharks

Bristol Ladies 19-15 Lichfield Ladies

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 17-5 Richmond Women

For a more in-depth review of these games please see my round-up on www.womensportsuk.com.

RFU News

It seems that this season will be the last of the Women’s Premiership as this week England Rugby announced that from next year there will be a new competition – the Super League (yes we have already got super leagues in football, netball and cricket)

The competition will comprise 10 teams – entry is open to any who can fulfil “minimum operating standards”.  These standards are yet to be published, but in all likelihood it will be the eight current Premiership teams plus two others, probably from the Championship.

Expressions of interest are invited by 11 November.  Application packs will go out on 14 November and the deadline for applications will be 6 January 2017.

Tennis

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the end of season WTA Finals in Singapore with a shoulder injury.

She has not played competitively since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open in September.

This means that there is still a place up for grabs and it could go to British number one, Johanna Konta.  The only person who can beat her to the place is the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova as Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro (currently 10th in the rankings) has already pulled out of the final qualifying tournament, the Kremlin Cup, through injury.

Johanna Konta can only be overtaken by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the race to qualify for the WTA Finals, after Carla Suarez Navarro’s hopes ended in Moscow.  Suarez Navarro could have passed Konta by winning the Kremlin Cup but retired with a wrist injury in round two.

Konta is not competing this week as she is still recovering from injury so it will be an anxious wait on the sidelines for her as she follows Kuznetsova’s progress.

With 470 points to be awarded for the Kremlin Cup the standings are as follows:

  1. Angelique Kerber (Germany) – Qualified
  2. Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) – Qualified
  3. Simona Halep (Romania) – Qualified
  4. Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) – Qualified
  5. Garbine Muguruza (Spain) – Qualified
  6. Madison Keys (USA) – Qualified
  7. Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) – Qualified
  8. Johanna Konta (Great Britain) – 3455 points
  9. Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) – 3170 points
  10. Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) – 3080 points

 

Also in tennis, British duo Naomi Broady and Heather Watson got the final of the Hong Kong Open but lost to Chan Yung-jan and Chan Hao-ching of Chinese Taipei 6-3 6-1.

The Chan sisters were top seeds and the Hong Kong win was their third tournament win of the year.

Golf

 Blue Bay LPGA tournament (China)

After two rounds of the Blue Bay event the leaderboard stands as follows:

-12 Minjee Lee (Aus)

-6 Caroline Masson (Ger)

-5 Carlota Ciganda (ESP)

-5 Jessica Korda (USA)

-4 Xi Yu Lin (Chn)

-4 Chella Choi  (SKor)

-4 Sandra Gal (Ger)

———–

-2 Charley Hull (Eng)

Cricket

Plenty of cricket news this week from both on and off the field.

West Indies v England

England took the West Indies series 3-2 with dominant display in fifth ODI this week.  An excellent display with bat and ball plus tighter fielding ensured success.

In short, the three games at Sabina Park were topsy turvy affairs, much in keeping with the first two games.  These three also offered points towards the ICC Women’s Championship and therefore towards World Cup qualification.

The third game saw England win the toss and bat.  They posted 220 with opener Lauren Winfield scoring 79 and Nat Sciver 58.  West Indies suffered a pretty terrible collapse and were all out for 108 with top scorer Shaquana Quintyne with 21.

West Indies won the fourth game, having this time won the toss and chosen to bat.  They scored 223/6 with the excellent Stafanie Taylor hitting 85.  Although a big total, England were initially cruising in reply, but no less than five run outs saw them fall short as they were all out for 181.

The series was level again at 2-2.

When Stafanie Taylor won the toss in the last match some thought it was already job done.  But this match bucked the trend.  England’s bowlers were tight and lethal, especially the star of the tour, Alex Hartley, who took 4/24 as the Windies were reduced to 155 all out.

In the end England made it look easy and reached their target in just 38.5 overs.  Nat Sciver scored 58.

I have written a more detailed review of the series for Women’s Sports UK.  Read it here: England women take series 3-2

England still need two points for automatic qualification to the World Cup next year.  They should secure this easily in Sri Lanka next month.

Meanwhile the result also means that Australia have won the inaugural ICC World Championship trophy as neither West Indies nor England can now catch them.

South Africa v New Zealand

We are now five games into a best of seven series and New Zealand are currently 4-1 up. The latest two games at Paarl on 17 and 19 October both went the way of the White Ferns.

In game four the home side batted first, making 194 all out in 49 overs.  Top scorer was captain Dane van Niekerk with 48.  But it was not enough as the visitors knocked off the chase in a ridiculous 28.2 overs with Rachel Priest clubbing 86 from 67 balls and Amy Satterthwaite 81 from 71.

New Zealand batted first in game five.  They scored 208/8 off their 50 overs with opener Natalie Dodd top scoring with 52.  South Africa couldn’t compete and were all out for 113, meaning New Zealand won by 95 runs.  The only significant batting contributions came from Mignon du Preez with 62 and Sune Luus with 27.  Also a worry for the home side was Marizanne Kapp retiring hurt without scoring.

There are two more games at Paarl for the Proteas to restore some pride.

ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2020

Cricket Australia has announced that the women’s event will be a standalone tournament, held separately from the men’s event.

The ICC has backed the plan to hold the two events six months apart.

All of the previous five World T20s have been held in parallel with the men’s with the semi-finals and final played as double-headers.

This is undoubtedly a step forward for women’s cricket and heartening that Cricket Australia and the ICC see women’s T20 as strong enough to hold its own as an event.

The women’s tournament will be in February/March 2020 and the men’s in October/November.

Cricket Australia Chairman, David Peever, said;

“WBBL has taught us that there is an audience for women’s cricket both live and on prime-time television and this decision means we have the opportunity to hold the biggest women’s sporting event ever held in Australia.”

There have been so many initiatives and announcements recently regarding Australian women’s sport that it seems that the various sports are now in competition to see who can make the most positive strides!

Australian women’s cricket

As mentioned above, it seems that everyone in Australia is keen to invest in women’s sport at the moment.

This week Cricket Australia also announced it is to invest $15 million in cricket to “keep pace with AFL [Aussie Rules], netball”.

The investment comes from the Commonwealth Bank and is aimed at the women’s game and diversity over the next three years.

This follows hot on the heels of the governing body’s announcement of an extra $4 over four years for the development of girls’ and women’s cricket.

Time for everyone else to catch up, I feel…..

Cycling

The Road World Championships in Doha

Denmark’s Amalie Dideriksen won the women’s race with Britain’s Lizzie Deignan fourth.

Dideriksen beat Kirsten Wild from Netherlands in a sprint finish with Finland’s Lotta Lepisto in third.

European Track Championships in Paris 19-23 October

Britain’s medal tally (women) after two days currently stands at three.

On the first day British Olympic champion cyclist Katie Archibald won silver in the elimination race.  She was beaten by Kirsten Wild, who seems to have gone seamlessly from Doha to Paris.  Laurie Berthon of France was third.

On the second day Elinor Barker claimed silver in the scratch race.  Ausrine Trebaite of Lithuania won the race with, you guessed it, Kirsten Wild in bronze.

There was a bronze in the women’s team pursuit for Emily Kay, Dannielle Khan, Manon Lloyd and Emily Nelson.  Italy took the gold with Poland silver.

 

England take West Indies series 3-2 with dominant display in fifth ODI

laura 1

My review of the three Sabina Park ODIs and the series has just been published by Women’s Sports UK:

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/news/england-take-west-indies-series-3-2-with-dominant-display-in-fifth-odi

Women’s Sports Column 8-14 October

books
Just some of the excellent books available about women’s sport, by women!

Welcome to this week’s column.  It’s another bumper week for women’s sports news, so let’s plough straight in.  We have stories from athletics, cricket, rugby, football, sailing, tennis and cycling this week plus a shocking “and finally” to make you angry and indignant.

 

Athletics

To athletics first where Jessica Ennis-Hill has announced her retirement this week.  It was not entirely unexpected news but sad nevertheless.

Ennis-Hill has done so much to change how women who decide to have a child and then return to their sports are viewed.

She won a memorable gold in the heptathlon at the 2012 Olympics in London and this year claimed silver in the same event in Rio.

On her Twitter account she said that it was,

“one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make…I’ve always said I wanted to leave on a high and have no regrets.”

She is bound to have many more years ahead of her being an ambassador for athletics and for women (and mothers) in sport.

Cricket

Another week, another bizarre item of news from cricket.

As you will all know by now, the Women’s World Cup takes place in 2017 in England and Wales.  The International Cricket Council (ICC) has just announced the schedule of fixtures.  As a friend of mine commented,

“What buffoon arranged the schedule for the Women’s Cricket World Cup in England next summer?” (Thanks Martin)

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

The 28 round-robin matches will take place on eight days; on six days there will be four matches and on the other two, two matches.  So if you want to go and see the games in person, the most you can see is eight.  Whoever thought this would be a good idea?  How does Sky cover this?  One thing’s for certain, they’re not going to give over Sky Sports 1-4 to show all four on a day!  And you can’t blame them.  So, essentially, the women’s cricket-loving public is being short-changed again.

It’s something I repeatedly come up against – the organisers or governing body says “we’re behind women playing {insert sport here} all the way.  Here’s a brilliant tournament/initiative/league to show how much we are behind it!”

Then the reality kicks in and they can’t deliver.  They can’t give it the resources, time, and above all, money, to do it justice.  It’s too late to get the ICC to think again in this case, but I would implore them to look at what they’ve done and despair (apologies to mangling of Shelley).  There, rant over.

 

On the field it’s honours even between West Indies and England after the first two ODIs in the five-match series in Jamaica.  England won a tight first game by five runs and West Indies won the second after England lost their last six wickets for 17 runs and the hosts won by 38 runs.  For a more detailed round-up of these two matches please check out my report for www.womensportsuk.com. 

The sides now move to Sabina Park for the next three matches.  These count towards the ICC Women’s Championships and, therefore, towards automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup.

 

South Africa are also currently playing a seven-match ODI series against New Zealand.  With three matches gone the series stands at 2-1 to New Zealand.  The visitors won the first game in Kimberley by 12 runs with the home side falling short of their relatively small 128 run target.

South Africa struck back in the second winning by four wickets.  They chased down 223 with a top score of 80 from captain Dane van Niekerk and a contribution of 42 from Lizelle Lee.

The third game was an easy win for New Zealand as they surpassed their target of 189 in just 33.1 overs, losing one wicket in the process.  Although Rachel Priest was out for 10, captain Suzie Bates with 82 and Amy Satterthwaite with 89 took the game away from South Africa.

The teams now move on to Paarl, where the fourth ODI takes place on Monday 17 October.

 

Also this week it has been announced that former England captain Charlotte Edwards will play for the Adelaide Strikers in this year’s Women’s Big Bash League, which will take place in December and January.  Last season she played for Perth Scorchers.

 

Rugby

It was the fourth round of matches in the Women’s Premiership at the weekend.   Bristol are still unbeaten and sit at the top of the table with 20 points.  Lichfield are just behind them, second only on points difference:

DMP Sharks 10-67 Bristol

Lichfield 33-15 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

Saracens 5-19 Worcester Valkyries

Richmond 15-10 Wasps

For an in-depth round-up read my piece for www.womensportsuk.com. 

 

Tennis

There was bad news for Johanna Konta this week after she was forced to withdraw from the Hong Kong Open with an abdominal strain.  She pulled out before her second round match against Wang Qiang.

Konta is currently in the final qualifying position for the end of season tournament in Singapore.  But this position is not secured yet and it could go to Dominika Cibulkova if she reaches the final at the Linz Open.

Heather Watson is through to round two having beaten Marina Erakovic 7-5 7-6 in round one.  She will play Caroline Wozniacki next.

 

Football

I have to confess that the Under 17s Women’s World Cup, which is being held in Jordan, has completely slipped under my radar.

England put in some fine performances to get to the quarter-finals, including defeating Brazil 2-1 in their third group game to get them through to the knockout stage.  In the other group games they drew 3-3 with North Korea and 0-0 with Nigeria.

On 13 October they played Japan in the quarter-final, but lost 3-0 to Japan.  Goals from Endo in the third minute, and two from Ueki in first-half injury time and the 80th minute saw Japan win to meet Spain in the semi-final.

The other semi-final will be contested by Venezuela and North Korea.

Both semi-finals take place on Monday 17 October.

 

The second leg of the Champions’ league matches took place this week:

Zvezda 2005 0-4 Manchester City Women

City completed a 6-0 aggregate win to reach the last 16.

They were 2-0 up at half-time with two goals from corners; one from Jennifer Beattie and one from Lucy Bronze.

After the break Beattie headed in her second with Izzy Christiansen scoring the fourth for city just before the end.

 Bayern Munich 1-4 Hibernian Ladies

Hibs were already 6-0 down from the first leg and little hope of improving their situation in Germany.

They went behind from an Anna Gerhardt goal and Scotland international Lisa Evans scored a second.  Gerhardt got a second before Abigail Harrison pulled one back to make it 3-1 at half-time.

The Scots battled on in the second half but Munich scored again through Vivien Miedema to make it 4-1 on the night and 10-1 on aggregate.

Wolfsburg 1-1 Chelsea Ladies

Chelsea put in creditable performance in Germany but, in truth, the damage had already been done in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

The visitors took the lead through an Eni Aluko goal as the striker took advantage of a defensive slip.  They held on to the lead until the 80th minute, when Wolfsburg equalised through Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir to make it 4-1 on aggregate.

Glasgow City 1-2 Eskilstuna United

After losing narrowly to Swedish side Eskilstuna last week Glasgow City would have been confident of taking the tie on home turf, but it was not to be.

Eskilstuna took the lead in the seventh minute through Olivia Schough.  Glasgow equalised just after half-time through Sarah Crilly, but they couldn’t score again and the Swedish side took the game away from them in the 58th minute with a second goal from Schough.

 

Off the pitch, as I reported last week, all kinds of shenanigans were allegedly taking place at West Ham Ladies, but this week it has been announced that West Ham United have taken the ladies’ side “in house”.

West Ham Vice-chair Karren Brady said they were “passionately committed to equality,” and that women’s football is a “high priority on our agenda.”

She added, “The addition of the ladies into the West Ham family is the solution my board and I have long sought.

“Not only does it secure the long-term future of the ladies’ side, but also guarantees current and future supporters, players and staff of the ladies’ team will form an integral part of the club’s bright future as we move forward.”

 

FIFA

The governing body of world football has appointed two women to senior positions this week.

Sarai Bareman is to be the first Chief Women’s Football Officer.  She will lead the newly created women’s football division.  She is the only female member of FIFA’s 2016 reform committee.

The other post, that of Chief Officer, Member Associations and Development, has gone to our own Joyce Cook, a tireless campaigner for equality in football and currently chair of Level Playing field, Managing Director of Centre for access to Football in Europe (CAFE)Top of Form and on the boards of Sports Ground Safety Authority and Women in Football.

 

Sailing

 A major rule change to the Volvo Ocean Race has been announced this week.  In theory it will make it easier for women to compete at this level.

The new rules mean that all-male teams are restricted to seven members and also give mixed teams a numerical advantage.

There will now be five possible crew combinations for the 2017-18 edition:

7 men

7men + 1 or 2 women

7 women + 1 or 2 men

5 men + 5 women

11 women

Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Mark Turner said,

“Sailing is one of the few sports where you can have mixed teams, and we want to take advantage of that, and also reflect the growing desire for greater diversity in businesses – in particular the kind who back the race teams today.

“We’re using the crew rules to incentivise skippers to bring one or more female sailors onboard. I really hope that it’s not necessary to have any rule at all in the future – but it seems it’s the only way today to ensure we can maintain progress.”

The race celebrates its 43rd anniversary this year and since it started there have been over 2000 male participants but only over 100 women.

 

Cycling

The Road Cycling World Championships have been taking place in Doha this week.

Amber Neben of the United States won her second individual time trial world title in a time of 36 minutes 37.04 seconds.  She was six seconds ahead of Netherlands’ Ellen van Dijk with Katrin Garfoot of Australia in third.

Britain’s Hannah Barnes was 14th and Hayley Simmonds 25th.

The team time trial was won by Dutch-based team Boels-Dolmans.  The team included Lizzie Deignan (formerly Armitstead) and won in a time of 48 minutes 41.62 seconds, a full 48.24 seconds ahead of second place team Canyon-Sram which included Britain’s Hannah Barnes.   Fellow Briton Ciara Home was in the Cervelo Bigla team that finished third.

 

And finally,

In an interview with The Guardian this week, journalist and broadcaster Jacqui Oatley admitted that she had to call police when the comments she received on social media reached such a violent point that she felt under threat from them.

One person that particularly disturbed her threatened to go to her house and “cut” her among other, as she put it, “unmentionable” things.

Usually Oatley is phlegmatic about such comments so this obviously must have been something out of the ordinary.  It’s awful to even think that there is such a thing as “the ordinary” when it comes to this kind of stuff, but this is pretty much what any female sports journalist has to go through when they dare to comment on/write about/broadcast about men’s sport.

When she was covering the men’s Euros this year a rather nice chap suggested on Twitter that she should be “at home cooking the tea rather than presenting football”.  She responded by replying that she was a “bit busy doing my dream job”.

More women should be doing their dream job and if this doesn’t fit with a man’s view of a woman’s role, then this is the fault of the man, not the woman.

 

 

Women’s Sports Week – So far, so good, but we’re still lagging behind

Should we be happy with the strides women’s sport has made or are we still accepting crumbs from the table?

It was Women’s Sports Week last week and the internet, print and broadcast media was awash with positive images of sportswomen and women in sport, messages exhorting women young and old to participate in sport and those both qualified and not so qualified are telling us that we all have a role to play.

I make no apologies, but this piece will ask a lot of questions and not necessarily provide the answers.

I don’t want to be a killjoy as undoubtedly we are better off than we have ever been and progress is being made all the time, but I personally feel all women who aspire to any role in sport will still have to wade through treacle to get there.

I know it’s my “thing”, but I maintain that those of us who have any kind of role in women’s sport are in a “bubble”.  We see the positive news; in fact we surround ourselves with it, with the increased profile and progress of women’s sport and so it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that everyone thinks like we do, but actually, who, outside the bubble, does?

Amongst all the fabulous stories this week, we have had West Ham Ladies shambles and the Czech footballers telling their female referee to “get back to the stove” to counterbalance it.  On Sunday I listened to BBC’s TMS coverage of the first One Day International between West Indies and England.  At the end of the first innings on TMS there’s usually forty minutes of discussion of hot cricketing topics, interviews, etc.  What did we get on Sunday?  We got the music the disc jockey was playing at the stadium just so that the listener knew they were still broadcasting; basically the radio equivalent of the potter’s wheel (no, I’m not old enough to remember it, I’ve seen it on those clip shows).

So what is the view outside the bubble; should women still be in the kitchen or do we have a role on the pitch, the touchline, in the studio, press box, the boardroom?  It is apathy, or even more worrying, antipathy?

The positive soundbites issuing from the people in positions of power in sport (obviously mainly men) have tripped off the tongue this week, but are they just paying lip service to the idea of women in sport (I don’t say equality, because that’s not even on the agenda)?  Or do they really believe in what they’re saying?  Will they follow up on their words with constructive action?

And you can’t and shouldn’t just say, “Who cares? We’ll get there on our own!”  Everyone has to buy into this, not just women.

At this point, I’m going to pause, because I know plenty of men who care deeply about women’s sport, love it, watch it, write about it and promote it.  There is some truly fantastic work going on out there and I would never lump all people together.

But when do we get to the point where women’s sport is just “sport”?  When will a woman in the press box or boardroom be not even worthy of comment?  When do we stop having to have a Women’s Sports Week?  No time soon, I’m afraid.

There are now some great pathways opening up, some brilliant role models and some initiatives that should make it so much easier for those coming after us to forge a career in sport.  But patience is not my strong point; we’re inching closer, but the sooner we realise that it is “inching”, the better.

Women’s Sports Column 1-7 October

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Welcome to this week’s bumper edition of the Women’s Sports Column.  There’s so much to tell and discuss this week I don’t rightly know where to start.  Plenty of good stuff to come including a few possibly controversial words from me and a pretty impressive (in a bad way) “And finally”.  Stories this week come from football, tennis, rugby, cricket, sailing and Women’s Sports Week.

Football

Continental Cup Final

Sunday 2 October, Academy Stadium Manchester

Manchester City Women 1-0 Birmingham City Ladies

Manchester City women made it a league and cup double this week as they beat Birmingham City Ladies 1-0 after extra time to clinch the Continental Cup.

The match, unfortunately played on City’s home ground, was never going to be a goal-fest, contested as it was between the league’s two meanest defences.

After a goalless ninety minutes it took a header from Lucy Bronze to seal he victory.

The crowd was an excellent 4,214.

FAWSL1

Doncaster Rovers Belles 0-5 Arsenal Ladies

Arsenal overran the league’s bottom side at the Keepmoat scoring five in the process.  Danielle Carter opened the scoring after 13 minutes, but they weren’t able to double the lead until midway through the second half when Natalia Pablos Sanchon made it 2-0.  Pablos Sanchon grabbed her second on the 84th minute as the Belles crumbled in the face of relentless pressure.  Carter took her second three minutes from the end and Kelly Smith made it five on the stroke of full-time.

Belles have lost all of their 12 games this season and are doomed to WSL2.  Arsenal are still looking to claim next season’s second Champions’ League place by finishing second in the table.

British clubs also played in the Champions’ League this week:

Chelsea 0-3 Wolfsburg

Chelsea were totally outplayed in the first leg of their round of 32 match in their first ever game at Stamford Bridge.

Hungarian midfielder Zsanett Jakabi scored a hat-trick and in truth there could have been several more in a poor defensive display from the home side.

The first goal was down to a defensive mix-up between goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl and England defender Claire Rafferty in the twelfth minute.  Jakabi scored a second before half time and completed her hat-trick just after the break.

A crowd of 3,783 saw Chelsea’s virtual elimination from the competition.  They play the return leg next week.

Hibernian 0-6 Bayern Munich

Munich were far too strong for a young Hibs side at Easter Road on Wednesday.

The German side were 3-0 up at half time through goals from Stefanie Van Der Gragt, Vivianne Miedema and Melanie Leupolz.

Miedema and Luepolz scored again in the second half and even had the luxury of missing a penalty through Nicole Rosler before Melanie Behringer scored a sixth, again from the penalty spot.

A crowd of 2,551 saw the game and the return leg is next Wednesday.

Manchester City 2-0 Zveda 2005

Manchester made a winning start to their Champions’ League campaign with a 2-0 home win.

Jill Scott scored the first and also had another chance before half-time.  But they didn’t double their lead until late on when Lucy Bronze scored a second with a shot from the edge of the penalty area.

The second leg is on 12 October.

Eskilstuna 1-0 Glasgow City

Glasgow endured a narrow defeat in Sweden that they will be hopeful of overturning in the second leg next week.

The only goal of the game came through a header from Mimmi Larrson in the second half.

The second leg takes place next Thursday and will take place at Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium.

 

 Better news off the pitch for Chelsea this week as it was announced that winger Gemma Davison has signed a new contract until summer 2018.

In other football news, there have been two instances this week of players or clubs being brought to book for their attitudes to women.  See my “And Finally” for the second, but the first concerns WSL2 club West Ham Ladies.

Things have not been good at West Ham Ladies for some time.  I reported last year that former Hammer Julian Dicks, who managed the women’s team for the 2014-15 season, finally quit the job after revealing the lack of support offered by the parent club to the women’s side.

This week the situation threatened to spiral out of control when the Ladies’ side’s current Chair, Stephen Hunt, lodged a complaint with the FA accusing West Ham of breaking the rules on discrimination.

He told BBC Sport,

“West Ham need to be fined until they start to act like a 21st century club.”

He alleges that promised funds never materialised and that his side have been deprived of facilities to the point where they have had to train by the roadside.  They have had to buy their own kit and have not been allowed to find their own sponsors.

He also says they cannot afford a physio or a bus to take them to away games.  They have been playing in last season’s kits with names on the back crossed out.

Needless to say West Ham have disputed this version of events and issued a statement,

“The day-to-day management of West Ham United Ladies FC was transferred to a third party some time ago and unfortunately it is an arrangement that has simply not worked,

“Mr Hunt has refused to align with West Ham’s principles throughout his tenure as chairman and has, on a number of occasions, threatened the club.

“The club have been working for some time on plans to take West Ham United Ladies FC ‘in house’ and, in light of Mr Hunt’s most recent deeply concerning comments, we will now be seeking to do so at the earliest opportunity.”

This one is obviously going to run and run and we need to see the parent club taking action as soon as possible to right an embarrassing and unacceptable situation.

Tennis

British number one Johanna Konta is through to the China Open semi-finals after beating home favourite and world number 36, Zhang Shuai, 6-4 6-0.  Zhang had caused the biggest upset so far in the last round when she beat Simona Halep.

Konnta was 4-0 down in the first set, but won 12 games in a row to take the match in style.

She faces eighth seed Madison Keys in the semis.

Her performances this week again put Konta in contention for the WTA Finals in Singapore.  She currently lies 11th in the ranking, with the top eight qualifying.

World number one, Angelique Kerber, on the other hand, is out of the China Open after losing to Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, 6-3 7-5.

 

Off the court, the result of Maria Sharapova’s appeal against her two-year ban for doping was released this week.  She has had her ban cut to 15 months.

She will be able to return to the court on 26 April 2017.

“I am counting the days until I can return,” she said.

 

Rugby Union

 Big news for rugby in England this week as the RFU has announced its new focus for the development of the women’s game over the next four years.

Currently over 26,000 women and girls play rugby regularly in England.  The 2017 target was actually 25,000 and so it has been reached and surpassed a year early.  There are 300 clubs with a women’s or girls’ side.

They also unveiled the “Red Roses” as the new identity for the England national side.

RFU head, Ian Ritchie commented,

“England Rugby has demonstrated its commitment to the women’s game.

“We wanted to create an identity for England Women that would inspire more people to get involved whether playing or supporting the women’s game.”

England Rugby has already announced 48 professional contracts for women players and the first-ever sponsored women’s series takes place in November with the Old Mutual Wealth Series against France, New Zealand and Canada.  Also for the first time, and not to be underestimated, this season the Red Roses will wear the first custom-designed kit.

 

Cricket

Some bizarre news and some good news from cricket this week.  In an abrupt about-turn, the ECB announced this week that the Women’s Super League 50 overs tournament, due to start in 2017 will now not happen.

In a statement, the ECB said,

“As we start to map out the 2017 schedule ahead of the ICC Women’s World Cup, we also firmly believe that we must factor in sufficient time for the women’s county 50-over competition and for club cricket.”

2017 is going to be a big season with the World Cup taking place in England in July.

 But what on earth was the ECB thinking?  Did they not see this coming?   There was plenty of comment at the time the tournament was announced about fixture congestion and the availability of players.  Expect more fall-out from this to follow.

 Australian women’s cricket, however, seems to have a good news story every week.  Cricket Australia this week announced that the Lendlease Breakers will become Australia’s first fully professional domestic women’s sports team.

The Breakers, based in NSW, have signed a major sponsorship deal with Lendlease ensuring that players will earn a minimum wage of $35,00pa.

 In a statement, Cricket NSW CEO Andrew Jones said,

“This truly is a landmark moment.  Cricket NSW has always been a leader in women’s sport and today we are proud to announce another first.

“Every member of the Lendlease Breakers squad now has the opportunity to pursue a professional sporting career.

“I am confident that every state in Australia will now follow the lead of Cricket NSW by giving their female cricketers the opportunity to earn a living wage.”

This move comes hard on the heels of the new pay deal received by the Southern Stars, with their payment fund doubled to $4.23m from April 2016.

It’s impressive stuff from Cricket Australia and the ECB need to be having a close look at what their antipodean counterparts are doing, in real terms, to progress their women’s teams.

 

Sailing update from Abby Ehler

The Magenta Project takes a significant step towards realizing its ambition to bring more professional female sailors into high performance racing, this week. The entry into the Extreme Sailing Series™ Lisbon Act marks an exciting opportunity to provide some hard-core experience in the highly-charged, highly-competitive environment of stadium sailing.  The driving force behind the entry, called Thalassa Magenta Racing, is New Zealand’s Sharon Ferris-Choat a Magenta Project Ambassador and currently the only female racing in the GC32 circuits. The entry is the culmination of work behind-the-scenes to secure sponsorship, as-well-as on the water: providing practical training opportunities, which took place last July in the Solent.

Sharon Ferris-Choat says,

“It’s been a journey to get to this point, but having this team competing in the penultimate Act of this year’s Extreme Sailing Series™ in Lisbon is a massive achievement.

“Our squad get the chance to hone skills both in handling the GC32 and as a team, going head to head with nine, all male teams who’ve been racing regularly in the series throughout the year. And that’s what we are aiming for – the chance to provide top women sailors with exactly this kind of experience. Eventually we would like to see an all-female team taking part in the whole series rather than as a wildcard.”

The event is currently under way and can be followed at www.extremesailingseries.com  or www.themagentaproject.org

 

Women’s Sports Week 2016

3-9 October has been the second Women’s Sports Week, in case you missed it.  There has been plenty of media coverage for the event with the great and the good of women’s sport making one appearance after another to push the women’s sporting agenda.

The highlight for me was been the 5Live discussion on team sport with Kate Richardson-Walsh, Katy McLean, Tracey Neville and Casey Stoney (and Mark Sampson).  Another welcome announcement is the new England Rugby plan for the women’s game and the national side renamed as the “Red Roses”.

I’m yet to be convinced by “Team Up”, yet another initiative (as I tweeted somewhat wearily last week, “another day, another initiative”) which brings together England cricket, hockey and netball as they host world cups in England in 2017, 18 and 19 respectively.  Seems a bit of a tenuous link, but, as I say, I’m here to be convinced.

It has been a largely positive week, although I suggest you check out my blog next week when I devote a whole piece to it – the positive and the negative.

 

And finally, two players from Sparta Prague’s men’s side may think twice before they speak from now on.

After their 3-3 draw on Sunday, Sparta’s goalkeeper, Tomas Koubek tweeted that “women belong at the stove,” after the female referee missed an offside and their opponents equalised.  He added “Women should not officiate men’s football.”  His teammate, Lukas Vacha, tweeted a picture of the referee captioned “to the stove”.

Neither his club nor the Czech footballing authorities were not impressed.  The two players have been ordered to train with the women’s team (should be fun) and the Czech FA’s disciplinary committee will consider punishment in due course.

 

Five reasons you should be supporting women’s sport

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It’s Women’s Sports Week and although there are many reasons we should support women’s sport, here are just five to get you going.

1)  It’s got to get bigger and the only way it can is if we       support it.  I know this sounds like three-line-whip talk, or even blackmail, but I’m not averse to that.  If we want the next generation to have an even better chance, we need to support it now.  Get out there, watch it, talk about it, tweet about it, read about it (and if you can’t read about it, hassle your favourite newspaper until they cover it), join a club, like a Facebook page – you get the idea.

2)  It’s good for you.  If watching is not your thing, why don’t you get out and do it?  Be a part of it.    I’m not going over the reasons for getting active because you should all know them by now.  But if you can’t start in Women’s Sports Week, when can you?

3)  It’s fun.  Whether you’re in the crowd or on the court, the more you take part, the better it gets.  Make friends in the crowd, in a class or while you’re training to be a cricket umpire!  The social side of sport shouldn’t be ignored.

4)  It’s cheap!  You can see world class football, rugby, netball, etc, for a fraction of the cost of watching most men’s sport.

5)  Probably most importantly, generally it’s good (and getting better)!  Take football, for example.  If you’re not sure you like football, if you’ve only seen the Premier League on TV (and let’s face it, you’ve got little chance of seeing anything else) you may think it’s all about rolling round on the ground feigning injury and spitting a lot.  Or it’s about chanting as many offensive phrases as you can and being as aggressive as possible.  Well, try a women’s match.  The WSL season may be coming to an end, but there’s plenty of lower league local stuff out there.  And the atmosphere is completely different.  You can take the kids without embarrassment.

And before you say it, I realise most of the narrative of this post is aimed at women, but I’m glad to say there are many men out there promoting women’s sport as enthusiastically as I am.

Women’s Sports Week is a brilliant initiative.  It is a call to action.  But one week a year won’t cut it.  Every week should be Women’s Sports Week.