Welcome to this week’s column. As usual there are plenty of great stories and good news out there this week, but I start with a crushingly awful story – something I never thought I’d have to write. And it’s back to the sexist rubbish we all have to put up with for this week’s “And finally” to send you all off in a good mood!
Let’s crack on. Stories this week from football, rugby, Fast5 netball, ice hockey, golf, cricket, cycling, tennis and speed skating.
This week it was announced that the goalkeeper of the Gambia’s women’s national side died crossing the Mediterranean on a migration boat from Libya. More than 3,300 migrants have died in this crossing in 2016.
Jawara, who was just 19, made her debut in 2015 in a friendly against a team from Glasgow.
According to UN figures, 60% of the population of the Gambia live in poverty and a third live on $1.25 or less a day.
While we in Britain campaign for better pay in sport for women, we should perhaps remember that Britain’s women are in clover compared to others throughout the world. This doesn’t mean we should stop campaigning, but perhaps sometimes we should take a wider view. Mind you, perhaps those male footballers who “live” on hundreds of thousands of pounds a week should also think about it too.
We now know that it’s Yeovil and Bristol Academy who will be promoted to FAWSL1 next season.
London Bees 2-0 Yeovil Ladies
The Lady Glovers secured promotion at the London Bees at the weekend with a 2-0 win. They still have the chance to win the title, but at the moment have to be satisfied with the fact they will be playing in WSL1 next season.
After a goalless first half, Yeovil took the lead in the 56th minute through Kayleigh Green. They doubled their lead ten minutes from the end with a goal from Nadia Lawrence.
All teams have just one game to go and it is between Yeovil and Bristol Academy for the title. At the moment the Somerset side are top on goal difference.
Arsenal Ladies 2-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles
It was also a goalless first half at Boreham Wood, although Arsenal were always in control. The deadlock was finally broken in the 65th minute when Jodie Taylor finished from close range. She got her second eight minutes later to seal the win for the home side.
Manchester City Women 1-1 Birmingham City Ladies
WSL1 champions, Manchester City drew in their last match to ensure they went through the season unbeaten.
Birmingham took the lead in the sixth minute through an Aoife Mannion penalty after Andrine Hegerberg was brought down in the box by Lucy Bronze.
It took Manchester City until the 54th minute to equalise when Demi Stokes hit the top corner.
Chelsea Ladies 3-2 Reading Women
Chelsea have ensured they will finish as runners-up in WSL1, securing their Champions’ League place in the process.
Eni Aluko scored Chelsea’s first and Ana Borges doubled the lead before Lauren Bruton pulled one back from the penalty spot.
Aluko scored a second from close range to take the Blues 3-1 up. Melissa Fletcher got Reading’s second in second-half stoppage time, but it was merely a consolation.
Off the pitch
FiFA has announced the shortlist for Women’s Player of the Year. No British representation, but an impressive line-up.
Camile Abily (FRA)
Melanie Behringer (GER)
Sara Däbritz (GER)
Amandine Henry (FRA)
Saki Kumagai (JPN)
Carli Lloyd (USA)
Dzsenifer Marozsán (GER)
Lotta Schelin (SWE)
Christine Sinclair (CAN)
It was round seven of the Women’s Premiership last weekend. Bristol won yet again, but it was another thumping defeat for Wasps.
Worcester Valkyries 12-34 Lichfield Ladies
DMP Sharks 20-28 Richmond Women
Aylesford Bulls Ladies 59-0 Wasps Ladies
Bristol Ladies 27-5 Saracens Women
For more details of these games please see my report for Women’s Sports UK.
The Fast5 World Series was won by New Zealand last weekend as they beat Australia 41-16 in the Grand Final at the Hisense Arena in Melbourne. The hosts were unbeaten after the league stage, but New Zealand were too strong for the Aussies in the final to take the trophy for the sixth time.
The league table finished:
England will be happy with their performance. They beat Malawi 43-22 and Jamaica 32-19 in the group games. They only lost by a point to New Zealand, but they lost their second game against Malawi, the play-off, 32-35.
Great Britain’s women have never qualified for the Winter Olympics. Now they are just three stages away from qualification for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
They are currently playing in a qualifying series in Kazakhstan in a round-robin tournament against the home side, Mexico and Poland.
In the first match they came from two goals down to win 3-2.
Kimberley Lane pulled the first goal back midway through the third period. Saffron Allen levelled the game with just 81 seconds left on the clock and Angela Taylor scored again with a minute to go to clinch the win.
GB couldn’t reproduce this form in the second game as they went down to Poland 3-4.
Thursday, 3 November
Great Britain 3-2 Mexico
Kazakhstan 1-4 Poland
Friday, 4 November
Great Britain 3-4 Poland
Kazakhstan v Mexico
Sunday, 6 November
Mexico v Poland
Kazakhstan v Great Britain
On the track
This weekend the Track World Cup takes place in Glasgow.
Katie Archibald will be looking to continue the good form she showed at the European Track Championships in Paris last month.
Archibald will race alongside Emily Kay, Danni Khan, Manon Lloyd and Emily Nelson in the endurance events, but there will be no female sprinters competing.
Off the track
Big news from British Cycling this week as they announced that its ex-technical director, Shane Sutton, was indeed guilty of using sexist language towards Jess Varnish.
Varnish alleged that Sutton told her to “go and have a baby” as he was not going to select her for the world class programme.
The British Cycling Board found that Sutton “used inappropriate and discriminatory language”.
It’s a case that has split British cycling. Victoria Pendleton backed Varnish in her claims while Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins expressed scepticism at the alleged comments.
Sutton has suggested that he will appeal the decision.
“I can categorically state I never made those comments I was originally alleged to have made,”
After two rounds of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi the leaderboard stands as follows:
-13 O Kristinsdottir (Ice); -10 G Hall (Eng), G Nocera (Fr), B Allen (US), H Clyburn (Eng)
Georgia Hall is currently lying in joint second largely due to her second round course record of 64. It was a round that contained eight birdies.
The speed-skating World Cup begins in Calgary on 4 November.
Top British speed-skater Elise Christie will be hoping that she has a better experience than she had at the Olympics in Sochi in 2014 when she was disqualified three times.
Last season she won races at the World Cup and in Europe.
She took some time out of training this week to speak to the BBC about her preparation for Calgary. She has been trying out new ideas including racing against men to improve her overtaking skills in the face of greater power.
The GB women’s squad comprises Elise Christie, Charlotte Gilmartin, Kathryn Thomson, Jennifer Pickering, Samantha Morrison and Hannah Morrison.Top of Form
Dominika Cibulkova has taken the end of season WTA Finals title in Singapore.
She beat world number one Angelique Kerber in the final 6-3 6-4.
She had lost to Kerber at the round-robin stage – in fact she only won one game from three, but she secured her place in the final with a three set win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on Saturday.
Meanwhile in Zhuhai, China the top 12 players who didn’t qualify for Singapore are playing in the WTA Elite Trophy.
The players are divided into four pools of three with the woman finishing top of each group going through to the semi-finals.
Britain’s Johanna Konta confirmed her semi-final place this morning after beating Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-2 in her final round-robin match.
She will play Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina on Saturday while the other semi-final will be between Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and home favourite Zhang Shuai.
All games are shown live on BT Sport.
England pace bowlers Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt have signed up for the WBBL. They will both play for Perth Scorchers.
Former England captain Charlotte Edwards has already signed for the Adelaide Strikers, while current England captain Heather Knight will play a second time for Hobart Hurricanes.
The tournament begins in December and will, according to its website, be covered by BT Sport.
England Performance Pathway
This week the ECB announced the restructuring of the women’s performance pathway. Over 120 players will be involved at some level and the system will now comprise four elements:
- England Women’s Squad – run by England Women’s Head Coach, Mark Robinson and Assistant Coach, Alastair Maiden, New central contracts will be announced by the end of 2016.
- England Women’s Senior Academy – John Stanworth will take up the new role of Head Coach of the England Women’s Senior Academy. 19 players have been selected from 13 counties for the Senior Academy programme, which will be based at the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough.
- England Women’s Academy – Loughborough Lightning coach Salliann Briggs will lead the Academy programme for emerging talent, which is also based at Loughborough. Centre. 17 players from 10 counties have been selected for the Academy.
- Regional Development Centres – six Regional Development Centres will be directly aligned to the Kia Super League structure, providing a local base for young players to gain experience.
Harvard University, that esteemed seat of learning, has had to suspend its men’s soccer team after it was found that its members had been making copious notes about their female counterparts, not about their footballing talent, but a ratings system based on their attractiveness and what sexual positions they thought the players would prefer.
The men’s team, currently lying top of the Ivy League, will now forfeit the rest of its games for the season.
It seems that this ratings document was not a one-off but a tradition stretching back to 2012.
In the University newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, the female players made a statement saying they were
“appalled that female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance.
“More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives.”
And so say all of us.
However, the men’s coach Pieter Lehrer did not seem to condemn his players but rather concentrated on the fact that his team would now miss out on a possible title. He said that the team was,
“beyond disappointed that our season has ended in this way, but we respect the decision made by our administration”.
Hardly a damning indictment of their reprehensible conduct……