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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.