Welcome to the last column of the year. It’s been a big year for women’s sport (but isn’t every year?). I’ve tried to reflect that in the best way I know how, and looking back over the last twelve months, I’m pleased with the breadth of stories I’ve been able to include. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.
So without further ado, let’s crack on with stories from speed skating, rugby, netball, cricket, Aussie Rules and Australasian sports administration, football, golf, boxing, cycling, bowls, taekwondo, the BT Action Woman Awards and SPOTY. This week’s “And finally” is probably predictable, but bears repeating one more time….
Bristol won again this weekend to leave them top of the table over the Christmas break.
The scores were:
Aylesford Bulls Ladies 17-24 Lichfield Ladies
Wasps Ladies 33-12 Richmond Women
Worcester Valkyries 15-22 Saracens Women
Bristol ladies 48-0 DMP Sharks
As ever, a longer round-up of these matches, written by me appears on the Women’s Sports UK website.
Wales’ women won a silver medal in the triples at the World Bowls Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand this week.
Anwen Butten, Kathy Pearce and Emma Woodcock were beaten in the final by Carla Krizanic, Natasha Scott and Rebecca Van Asch of Australia.
They had beaten England (16-12) and Malaysia (18-16) on the way to the final.
Australian Rules Football
Good news for Aussie rules fans this week as it was announced that every game in the inaugural AFL women’s competition will be shown live on television.
Fox Footy is to show all 28 league games and the Seven Network will broadcast eight prime-time matches, including the first game of the season and the Grand Final on 25 March.
The action begins 3 February 2017. Not sure if they will be streamed in Britain, but nevertheless it’s great news for AFL fans.
Australasian Sports Administration
1) Kate Palmer has been appointed the Australian Sports Commission’s first female chief executive. She joins after an historic spell as the head of Netball Australia, in which she brokered a landmark pay deal for players and also oversaw a huge increase in revenue for the sport.
2) Dr Farah Palmer, three-time World Cup winning captain has been elected to the Board of New Zealand Rugby. She is currently a member of the New Zealand Maori Rugby Board and will replace the former Maori representative, Wayne Peters, who has retired.
“Women on sports boards” seems to be the in-vogue cause at the moment. Not surprising really, as the current percentage of women on sports boards in the United Kingdom is 30%, having risen from 21% in 2009. There is progress, undoubtedly, and more needs to be done. Personally, I’m still more concerned with lack of media coverage which stubbornly stands at 7%. But progress cannot not be concentrated on a single issue and we should celebrate any victories we achieve, however small.
New England central contracts
The ECB has announced new and improved central contracts for England’s women. Two-year contracts have been issued to:
Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Georgia Elwiss, Natasha Farrant, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Heather Knight, Beth Langston (rookie contract), Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt.
Becky Grundy has lost her contract and Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway are no longer a part of the set-up having retired from international cricket last season.
Just when you’re feting all things Australian, Cricket Australia drops an enormous clanger.
The executive general manager of strategy at Cricket Australia has confirmed that female cricketers’ new one-year contracts will have a clause that will require them to “warrant” that they are not pregnant when they sign.
They insist that the clause is there “for the player’s safety and that of their unborn child” and that that any disclosure would be confidential and made to the medical officer.
Female players are also excluded from the parental leave policy, although women in non-playing roles can have four to 12 weeks’ paid leave.
And, as ever, although things are improving, there is a great discrepancy in pay; the national minimum for men is $270,000 excluding superannuation, but for women it is $40,000 including superannuation.
Cricket Australia says that it is all being negotiated, but the union says contract conditions are ‘contrary to acceptable employer behaviour’,
Watch this space for further fallout.
After the first weekend of WBBL matches it’s all square all the way down as each team won one and lost one! Sydney Sixers are top on net run rate, but it’s early days. The results so far are as follows:
Perth Scorchers 119/6 off 20 overs
Hobart Hurricanes 120/5 19 overs
Hurricanes won by 5 wickets
Adelaide Strikers 116 all out (19.3 overs)
Melbourne Renegades 102 all out (19.1 overs)
Strikers won by 14 runs
Melbourne Stars147/8 (20 overs)
Sydney Thunder 141/4 (20 overs)
Stars won by 6 runs
Adelaide Strikers 128/6 (20 overs)
Melbourne Renegades 131/3 (19.3 overs)
Renegades won by 7 wickets
Perth Scorchers 142/4 (20 overs)
Hobart Hurricanes 125/9 (20 overs)
Scorchers won by 17 runs
Sydney Sixers 138/6 (20 overs)
Brisbane Heat 142/5 (19.2 overs)
Heat won by 5 wickets
Brisbane Heat 83/9 (20 overs)
Sydney Sixers 86/2 (16 overs)
Sixers won by 8 wickets
Melbourne Stars 116/9 (20 overs)
Sydney Thunder 121/2 (18.5 overs)
Thunder won by 8 wickets
Live matches and highlights are on BT Sport and the WBBL also has a very detailed website: www.bigbash.com.au/wbbl
BT Action Woman Awards
The ceremony for the BT Action Woman of the year took place this week. Winners of Team of the Year were the GB Hockey team for their brilliant gold medal in Rio. Katherine Grainger won a Lifetime Achievement award, which she knew nothing about and looked a bit grumpy about to start off with!
Winner of Action Woman of the Year 2016 was mountain biker Rachel Atherton. She won all seven rounds of the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup this year and took the world title for the fourth time.
Katie Taylor won her second professional bout against Viviane Obenauf of Brazil last week. She won on points 60-53.
Obenauf was knocked down in the second round and also suffered a cut near her left eye, but she managed to take it distance before being outpointed.
It was announced this week that New Zealand will play Wales in two test matches in February 2017.
The two games will take place at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff on 7 and 8 February.
Sports Personality of the Year 2016
Although the main event is not broadcast until 18 December, the winner of the Young Sports Personality of the Year award has already been announced.
Swimmer Ellie Robinson is this year’s winner.
She won a gold medal and a bronze at the Rio Paralympics aged just 15.
She won the S6 50m butterfly in a Games record time and broke the British record in the 100m freestyle to take bronze.
Earlier in the year Robinson had bagged one silver (50m butterfly) and three bronzes (50m, 100m and 400m freestyle) at the IPC European Championships.
There was plenty of success for Britain’s women at the World Grand Prix Final in Baku last weekend.
Charlie Maddock set the ball rolling as she beat Olympic champion Sohui Kim in the -49kg to take gold.
Jade Jones and Bianca Walkden followed suit on Saturday as Jones beat Hedaya Malak of Egypt in the -57kg final and Walkden defeated Zheng Shuyin of China to take gold in the +67kg category.
Rachelle Booth lost to South Korea’s Lee Ah-reum in -62kg bronze-medal match.
Great Britain’s Elise Christie won double gold at the World Cup event in Shanghai last weekend.
She won the first of two 500m races in 43.590 seconds and took the second in 42.590.
Christie leads the 500m overall ranking from Fan Kexin from China and Marianne St-Gelais of Canada.
Shanghai is the third in the series of World Cup events. The fourth is in Gangneung, South Korea, from 16-18 December.
Shanshan Feng won a record fourth Dubai Ladies Masters at the weekend. She took the title on -10, two ahead of England’s Charley Hull.
Going into the final round, Felicity Johnson was leading, but she faded in the last carding a three over 75 to finish six shots off the lead.
The dispute between British Cycling and cyclist Jess Varnish continues.
After last week’s revelation that only one of nine of her complaints against Shane Sutton was upheld, Varnish has now requested that British Cycling release her personal data under the Data Protection Act so that she can see Sutton’s text messages and the organisation’s report into his conduct.
I feel there’s still probably plenty to come out of this story yet.
Birmingham City Ladies
David Parker resigned as Birmingham City ladies’ manager on Monday. He had been in charge for five years.
There was no delay in announcing his successor as the WSL1 club announced they have appointed Marc Skinner to the post.
Skinner had been director of the Blues Ladies’ centre of excellence.
After a period of silence it has been announced that former England captain, Casey Stoney, has signed for Liverpool Ladies.
She left Arsenal at the end of the season causing much speculation as to her future plans.
Liverpool manager Scott Rogers said,
“Her reading of the game and ability on the ball is fantastic so I have no doubt that she will prove to be a great signing for us.”
New rules for WSL2
It was announced this week that WSL2 will introduce relegation for the first time in the 2017-18 season, when the league swaps to a winter season.
This means that the bottom team will drop into the Women’s Premier League.
In other WSL news, the league has also revealed that applications for WSL licences for the 2018-19 season will only be open to the existing clubs. If, however, a club fails to meet the specified criteria, other clubs will be allowed to apply.
FA funding will increase as follows:
WSL1 up to £92,500 (up from £70,000)
WSL2 up to 62,500 (up from £35,000)
Whilst any increase is welcome, make no mistake, this money is still just a drop in the ocean when it comes to running a WSL club.
Nigeria’s continued protest
As I reported last week, the Nigerian women’s football team is currently fighting for outstanding payments due to them after they won the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations on 3 December.
On Tuesday, one of the players, quoted anonymously by the BBC, said that they are prepared to continue their sit-in at the Agura hotel until they receive all bonuses, believed to total £23,650 USD per player.
“We are tired of the lies and false promises from the NFF,”
The NFF is directly funded by the Nigerian government and is currently strapped for cash after Nigeria slipped into recession in August.
But the Super Falcons coach, Florence Omagbemi and her assistants have only received one month’s pay since March.
The NFF general secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, met with players and officials at the hotel on Tuesday. In a statement he said,
“The NFF is not happy owing players and coaches, but present severe economic challenges inform that it can only continue to seek the understanding of these persons, as well as hoteliers, travel agents, management and staff until the situation improves,”
“We know we have financial commitment to you (players and officials of Super Falcons) and we have not at any time stated otherwise. But the money is not readily available.
“I have come to appeal to you, to understand the situation of the federation, to understand the situation of the country at the present and exercise patience.
“We will pay you all monies you are being owed as soon as we receive same from the government.”
The stalemate continues.
And finally, I’m sure you’ve all seen it already but it’s three boos for the Football Association this week (God bless ‘em).
In their wisdom, the FA have revealed their ideas for attracting more girls into football. The plan, posted on the Sussex FA website includes:
Nice smelling bibs (we all want those, don’t we?)
Allowing girls breaks so they can check their phones.
Advertise “where girls go” such as “coffee shops or the backs of toilet doors”
Slogans to attract girls could include:
“You won’t even notice you’re getting fit!” and “Who needs Facebook friends?”
Not saying anything else. Don’t need to, do I?
As I said at the beginning, that’s all for this year. I’m currently writing a history of women’s field hockey for WiSP Sports, so please check in to read that if you’re so inclined.
Also next week, although there will be no column, I am publishing something which means a lot to me. Earlier this year I interviewed someone and got some great copy. I tried to sell the resultant article but to no avail. Although he has now moved on from his post, the subject of the article has just read it and he loved it, so I would like to reproduce it on my site. Look out for it – I’m really happy with it and I hope you like it too.
Hoping you all have a lovely, peaceful and sporting Christmas and let’s all wish for more sporting success in 2017