Women’s Sports Column 14-20 April 2018

12928352_10201803729532769_8195423317764149816_nWelcome to this week’s column.  No prizes for guessing my top story of the week.  I’m glad to say that my “Give Australia the gold now” statement was proved spectacularly wrong.  Anyway, more of that later.

This week’s stories include a last round-up from the Commonwealth Games, plus news from football, netball, rugby, tennis, cricket and rugby league.

Let’s crack on, starting with those golden Roses!

Commonwealth Games

Netball Semi-final
Jamaica 55-56 England

What a comeback!  England were six down at half-time and I, for one, thought it was all over.

The Roses made a terrible start, completely failing to get to grips with Jamaica’s huge 6’ 6” shooter, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.  They were also profligate at the other end; as Jo Harten admitted, “I had a shocker of a start.”

But in the third quarter they began to pull it back and by the start of the fourth they were only three goals down.

It was neck and neck in the final quarter and with 30 seconds to go it was 55-55.

From England’s centre pass Helen Housby missed the shot to win it with just seven seconds left.  It looked to be going into extra-time when Harten made up for her bad start by taking the rebound and popping it in with one second left on the clock.

Netball Final
Australia 51-England 52

If you thought the semi was tense, it had nothing on the final.  I don’t think I was alone in thinking the Diamonds would run away with it – but how wrong I was.

It was 25-25 at half-time.

In the third quarter the Roses went behind again and were four goals down going into the final quarter.

But they pulled it back yet again and with 20 seconds to go it was 51-51.  They couldn’t do it again, could they?

Well, yes they could.  This time it was Helen Housby who held her nerve after first Harten then Housby herself missed the chance to take the game.  Australia were penalised for contact and

Housby put away the shot to take the game on the buzzer.

As part of the defenders’ union, can I just put in a word for the England defenders?  The shooters get the glory, but without the fabulous performances from Geva Mentor and captain Ama Agbeze, plus the whirlwind that is Serena Guthrie, the Roses would not have won it.

Other Commonwealth Games Highlights

Hockey: England’s women won bronze, demolishing India 6-0 in the bronze medal match. Sophie Bray scored a hat-trick with Hollie Pearne-Webb, Alex Danson and Laura Unsworth also on the scoresheet.

Badminton: Gabby and Chris Adcock retained their mixed doubles title in an all-England final, defeating Lauren Smith and Chris Ellis 19-21 21-17 21-16.  Smith also won silver with partner Sarah Walker in the women’s doubles.  And England made it six medals, taking mixed team bronze.  Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour claimed bronze in the women’s singles.

Boxing: Wales’ Lauren Price won gold in the -75kg category, defeating Australia’s Caitlin Parker on a split decision.  Sandy Ryan of England (-69kg) beat Rosie Eccles of Wales to take gold, with Lisa Whiteside also taking gold in the -51kg, beating Carly McNaul of Northern Ireland on points.  There were also silvers for Michaela Walsh and Kristina O’Hara.

Rugby Sevens: England claimed bronze in the inaugural Commonwealth Games appearance of women’s sevens.  They defeated Canada in the bronze medal match, 24-19.  New Zealand beat Australia 17-12 to take gold.

Squash: England claimed silver and Wales bronze in the women’s singles through Sarah-Jane Perry and Tesni Evans respectively.

Table tennis:  Bronze went to England in the team event, while England’s mixed doubles team of Liam Pitchford and Tin-Tin Ho took silver.

Basketball: England took silver in the women’s event, losing out to hosts Australia 99-55 in the final.  As with netball, basketball receives no UK Sport funding as it is seen as unlikely to bring in Olympic medals.  Will UK Sport have to think again after this?

Athletics: Jade Jones of England completed a remarkable double when she claimed bronze in the T54 marathon, having won gold in the para-triathlon earlier on in the Games.  She was then selected as flag-bearer for the England team at the closing ceremony.  The England women’s 4x100m team of Dina Asher-Smith, Asha Philip, Lorraine Ugan and Bianca Williams won gold in a time of 42.26, beating Jamaica (42.42) and Nigeria (42.75).  Laura Weightman claimed bronze in the 5,000m and  Morgan Lake silver in the high jump (both England).

Apologies again to those I have missed.

Netball – off the court

England’s Commonwealth Games gold is, and I’m not going to shy away from saying it, a “watershed” moment for the sport in England, and the UK.

But a rosy future for the sport in this country is not guaranteed.

At the moment the sport receives £13.9m for the grassroots game and £3m for the national team from Sport England.

It’s a lot of money – agreed.  But there are 160,000 girls and women currently playing netball in England and numbers are growing.  It will take all of that money to sustain and promote this growth with the excitement surrounding the “Back to Netball” and walking netball programmes.

When it comes to the elite game, UK Sport contributes little to netball.  The Superleague has done a tremendous amount over the past few years to fund itself.  It has got backing from Sky Sports and has sponsorship deals with Vitality and Mrs. Crimble’s, amongst others.

UK Sport is supporting next year’s World Cup in Liverpool, but it is still reluctant to put money into the elite game.  As we know, UK Sport is all about success – funding those who are already successful to do more (not the place for this debate here) so isn’t it time for them to put its hand in its pockets for netball?  Do England really have to win the World Cup before they are counted as successful?

Netball – on the court

The Vitality Superleague is back this weekend after the Commonwealth Games break.  And if the venues are not packed out for this round of matches, I’d like to know why.

Fixtures:

Saturday 21 April
Manchester Thunder v Surrey Storm (5pm)
Team Northumbria v Severn Stars (6pm)
Loughborough Lightning v Benecos Mavericks (7pm)

Sunday 22 April
Wasps Netball v Team Bath (3pm) – This is the live fixture on Sky Sports

Football – off the pitch

The Michael Oliver/Gianluigi Buffon debacle

Which dimwit decided it would be a good idea to post Lucy Oliver’s mobile number on social media after her husband refereed the controversial Champions’ League quarter-final between Real Madrid and Juventus?

Apart from the fact that Michael Oliver made the correct decisions, why should someone think it was acceptable to drag Lucy into the argument?

Not that they stopped at that, of course.  They had to go on to make threats and abuse her generally.

Did they think it was acceptable because Lucy is an excellent and experienced referee in her own right?  Or was it just because she is a woman and, therefore, fair game?

Who knows?

The bottom line is it’s not acceptable in any way.  Not the abuse of Michael Oliver.  Not the abuse of Lucy Oliver.  Not at all.

Over to UEFA to sort it out.

Millwall Lionesses

In the last week it has come to light that one of the stalwart teams of the league, Millwall Lionesses, is in financial trouble.

The WSL2 club has said it has “significant financial discrepancies” and opened a crowdfunding page earlier this week to try to raise money to complete the season.

Emilie Perry, Chair and sole director, resigned in March and the club says “all external funding channels have been exhausted”.

The team currently lies second in the division and is unbeaten in 11 games.  Players and staff have said they are willing to play without salaries in order to finish the season.

This is pretty rotten news and questions must be asked of the FA (yet again), which has already approved the club’s application for what will be the Championship next season.  Surely it looked into the club’s finances?  The crowdfunder may be a great short-term solution, but the club will have to be sustainable in the future.  I know the men’s club support them both monetarily and in-kind, but let’s hope they find their own backer, and soon.

When I started putting the column together earlier on in the week, the page was just starting up.  By Wednesday they had exceeded their £10k target!   The page is still open for contributions though, so if you can, please click here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/millwalllionesses and let’s get them funded.

PFA Awards Nominations

The list of nominees for the Women’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards is out.

FAWSL 1:

  • Ramona Bachmann (Chelsea)
  • Millie Bright (Chelsea)
  • Fran Kirby (Chelsea)
  • Maren Mjelde (Chelsea)
  • Jill Scott (Manchester City)
  • Ji So-Yun (Chelsea)

Women’s PFA Young Player of the Year award:

  • Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea)
  • Gabby George (Everton)
  • Lauren Hemp (Bristol City)
  • Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)
  • Georgia Stanway (Manchester City)
  • Keira Walsh (Manchester City)

The Awards ceremony is this Sunday, 22 April.  For what it’s worth, my votes would go to Millie Bright (own goals notwithstanding, is improving in leaps and bounds) and Georgia Stanway.  News of the winners next week.

Football – on the pitch

The semi-finals of the FA Cup took place last weekend and it was good to see them televised by the BBC (to hoots of derision from the Neanderthals, of course).  We now know the final will be between Arsenal and Chelsea.  Here’s how the semis unfolded:

Everton 0-1 Arsenal

It’s a sixteenth FA Cup final for Arsenal but heartbreak for Everton as the Gunners scored a stoppage-time winner to take them through.

Dan Carter opened the scoring or Arsenal on 25 minutes and went into the break with this slender lead intact.

In the second-half Everton equalised from the penalty spot.  Chloe Kelly calmly converted after Dominque Janssen was penalised for bringing down Courtney Sweetman-Kirk in the box.

The winner came in the 91st minute as Louise Quinn headed in from corner and the Gunners were through.

Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City

Two goals from in-form striker Fran Kirby were enough to see Chelsea into the final.

But City will be disappointed with their defensive performance as much as their toothlessness in attack.

Kirby was on the scoresheet as early as the fifth minute.  She latched on to a ball that should have been cleared by City captain Steph Houghton, to race through and put it past the ‘keeper.

In the second-half she did it again, this time Jen Beattie the defender with the error.

Chelsea are still in the hunt for three trophies; the FA Cup, the League title and the ultimate prize of the Champions’ League.  Manchester City have seen a slump in form that they will have to end if they are to realise their own dreams of retaining the WSL1 title and winning in Europe.

League Results:

Sunday 15 April

WSL2

London Bees 1-3 Durham Women
Sheffield FC 4-0 Watford Ladies

Wednesday 18 April

WSL1

Bristol City 0-2 Liverpool
Everton 0-1 Chelsea
Manchester City 3-0 Sunderland
Arsenal 3-1 Reading
Yeovil Town 0-0 Birmingham City

WSL2

Millwall Lionesses 2-1 Aston Villa
London Bees 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Thursday 19 April

WSL2

Doncaster Rovers Belles 3-1 Durham Women
Oxford United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

So it’s as you were at the top of WSL1 with Chelsea on 32 points from 14 games, three points clear of Manchester City, although City have a game in hand.  Arsenal are third, five points behind City with two games in hand over the leaders.

At the bottom, Yeovil registered their first point of the season this week with a home draw against Birmingham City.

In WSL2 Doncaster Rovers Belles are still top with 35 points from 13 games. Beleaguered Millwall are second with 29 points from 12 games.

Watford are bottom with just one point from their 11 games.

Tennis

Fed Cup

The GB Fed Cup team for the World Group II play-offs has been announced.

It will comprise Jo Konta and Heather Watson for singles and Anna Smith and Gabi Taylor for the doubles.  It will be Taylor’s debut, a reward for her fine start to the year that has seen her rise from 323 in the world to 175 after winning three challenger series titles.

If they win against Japan, they will be in World Group II for 2019, but if they lose they will go back to the Europe/Africa Zone.

The tie, which will be played on hard courts, will be this weekend; 21-22 April at Bourbon Beans Dome in Miki, Japan.  There will be radio coverage on BBC 5 Live and also on the BBC Sport website.

Cricket

Charlotte Edwards has been appointed Hampshire’s new director of women’s cricket.  She takes over from Bob Parks.

In an interview with the Hampshire CC website Edwards expressed her enthusiasm for the new role:

“I see an ambitious organisation that will compliment my passion for domestic cricket,” she told the club website.

“I look forward to working with players, coaches and staff to help Hampshire become one of the leading domestic clubs in the country for women’s cricket.”

Rugby Union

It will be Saracens v Harlequins in the Premier 15s final on Sunday.  The second-leg of the semi-finals were as follows:

Saracens 45-26 Gloucester-Hartpury

Having received a sound beating in the first leg, 62-0, Gloucester-Hartpury showed real fight against Saracens in the second.

Indeed the away side took the lead through a try from Rachel Lund.  But Saracens soon came back and by half-time their lead was 19-14, as they scored through Bryony Cleall, Helena Rowland and Hannah Botterman.  Gloucester-Hartpury also put a second score on the board through Mary-Ann Gittings.

The home side started strongly in the second-half, with Garnet Mackinder and Marlie Packer both crossing the whitewash.

Saracens skipper Lotte Clapp went over again to make it 38-14, before the away side countered again, Sophie Tandy scoring their third.

Rowland grabbed her second try of the match, but it was Gloucester-Hartpury who put the last score on the board as Tandy going over for her second.

Harlequins 22-7 Wasps

Wasps only needed to win by seven points or more to secure their final spot, but it was not to be.

It was Quins who opened the scoring on 25 minutes, after 20 minutes of Wasps pressure.  Stacy White went over in the corner and Quins were ahead.  Jess Wooden went over for a second shortly after.

After the break the home side scored another two tries, through Deborah McCormack and Vickii Cornborough and the game and tie, were effectively sealed.

Danielle Waterman finally went over for Wasps, but there was no way back.

The final is a week on Sunday, 29 April at Ealing Trailfinders.  Kick-off is 3pm.  Adult tickets are £10 and children go free.

Rugby League

I realise that rugby league is woefully underrepresented in this column.  I also know I have promised to rectify this before, but have never quite managed it.  I will make an effort this season!  The RFL is really getting its act together to promote the game and it certainly becoming more high-profile.  It’s not made it onto the BBC website yet, but as they can barely cover the men’s, it’s no great surprise (couldn’t be because it’s from oop-North, could it?  Why are they based in Salford if not to redress the North/South bias?).  And to give the BBC its due, I did hear Dave Woods, its excellent rugby league correspondent, talking about the new season during the interval of a men’s superleague match last week.

Anyway, I started out my journalistic career covering Sheffield Eagles for the Sheffield University newspaper, so I’ve really got no excuse.

The Superleague comprises seven teams: Wigan Warriors, Featherstone Rovers, St Helens, York City Knights, Bradford Bulls, Leeds Rhinos (the first appearance for a Leeds team) and Castleford Tigers.

The 2018 Superleague season got underway last weekend and the result were:

Wigan Warriors 54-0 Featherstone Rovers
St Helens 40-0 York City Knights
Bradford Bulls 16-32 Leeds Rhinos

There is a fine website dedicated to both the men’s and women’s game.  Check it out here

And finally,

As I’ve not mentioned netball for a couple of thousand words or so, I feel justified in putting it in just one more time in this column.  I’m happy to say that the comments on various websites after the Roses’ triumph were, by and large, positive.  In fact, there were several along the lines of (men) not being interested before, but being converted to the skills, excitement and atmosphere of the sport through their Commonwealth Games viewing.  Of course, there were still the Neanderthal naysayers citing the supposed irrelevance, worthlessness, sheer girliness of the game.  And, bizarrely, those (men again) on the other side, harping on at it being sexist that it’s a “girls’ game” and that men don’t play.   In their (mighty) opinion there’s no way it should be an Olympic sport if there were only women playing it.

They obviously don’t know that actually there’s quite a big following for men’s netball – clubs and everything!  Even mixed leagues!  So instead of crying “sexist” why don’t they just pick up a ball and try it?  Get involved, get better and get it to a level whereby they could hold big tournaments.  I’ll tell you why, because it’s easier for them to denigrate it and call it worthless if they’re “not allowed” to play it!

More news and views next week.

 

Women’s Sports Column 3-9 December

netball2Welcome to this week’s column.  Not so much in the way of results this week, plus lots of news from around the world.  It’s a truly global column this week as you’ll see.  So read on for stories from football, cricket, rugby, golf, netball, tennis, taekwondo, cycling, sailing and, wait for it, kabbadi!  Also an “And finally” guaranteed to make you say, “Not before time….”  Let’s crack on.

Firstly this week, it’s official, “This Girl Can” (as if we didn’t know this already).

Figures published by Sport England this week have revealed that the number of women playing sport regularly in England has reached an all-time high of 7.21m.

This is an increase of 250,000 on the figures before the “This Girl Can” campaign was launched in 2014.

The gap between men’s and women’s participation has narrowed to 1.55m.

This is obviously good news but is not reflected by the coverage given to women’s sport in the media, which is still at a woeful seven per cent.

Netball

England 57-64 Jamaica

I was there at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 4 December to see a tight, excellent game between two well-matched sides.

It was my first in-person experience of a netball international and I can thoroughly recommend it.  I must say hell hath no fury like a crowd of mainly young girls when their team is behind……

England were ahead by two after the first quarter.  Jamaica came back to lead at half-time by four.  During the third quarter the crowd really got behind the Roses, stamping and cheering for all they (we) were worth.  The Jamaican goalkeeper and captain Malysha Kelly incurred the crowd’s wrath as she repeatedly fouled Joanne Harten shooting for England and the game got a bit physical.  In fact I hadn’t seen that much bumping and boring in netball since I played goalkeeper for my school against our local convent school.

Anyway, the barracking worked as Jamaica had a loose period and England pressed.  It was all square going into the final quarter and the noise was deafening.

Unfortunately for England, they couldn’t maintain their form and Jamaica pulled away with the final score 57-64.  They also took the series 2-1.  Epic stuff.

Special mention must go to England’s defence, Ama Agbeze and Ebony Beckford-Chambers who had the unenviable task of marking the Sunshine Girls’ goal shooter, Jhaniele Fowler, who is just the six feet six inches tall.  And she jumped too (unlike Peter Crouch).

Hockey

Shameless piece of self-promotion, I’d like to tell you about my latest series for WiSP Sports.  This time I’m writing a four-part history of women’s field hockey.  The first part has just been published, so here’s the link:  History of Hockey part 1

Sailing with Abby Ehler

Team Magenta 32 is the second match racing team to receive their Tour Card for the World Match Racing Tour season 2017. Sally Barkow from USA is together with her all-female team preparing for their second full season and their challenge for the World Championship title in match racing.  Founded in 1999, the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) is the world’s leading professional sailing series. It features world class sailors and Olympic champions, with tour events staged around the globe.  Each stage, or World Championship event, now takes place in identically supplied one-design M32 high-performance catamarans to place the focus on teamwork and skill.

British professional sailors Dee Caffari and Hannah Diamond are this week working with Oman Sail to train and prepare 2 all-female Middle East teams for next year’s Sailing Tour of Arabia.

Since 2008 Oman Sail has been running sailing programmes for thousands of young Omani women and men. EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is contested in a fleet of identical Farr 30 yachts – one of the most exciting boats on the professional sailing circuit – along a course, which stretches each crew to the full, testing their skill, teamwork and versatility.

In its short history, EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour has gained global recognition, attracting top amateur and professional sailors from four continents and blue-chip sponsors. Now in its seventh year, The Tour has become one of the most respected and dynamic sailing regattas on the international circuit.

Mike Slade’s British Maxi Leopard 3 crossed the finish line in, Grenada at recently to take Monohull Line Honours and win the International Maxi Association (IMA) Trophy for the 2016 RORC Transatlantic Race.  The Maxi yacht was navigated by Britain’s Libby Greenhalgh, the only women in the crew of 17.  Libby Greenhalgh was the navigator onboard Team SCA in the last Volvo Ocean Race, and it is fantastic to see her continuing in that role at the elite level of the sport.

Football

Africa Cup of Nations

Nigeria won their eighth Cup of Nations this week with a 1-0 victory over hosts Cameroon, in front of a 40,000 crowd in Yaounde.

Desire Oparanozie scored the only goal late in the game to ensure Nigeria retained the trophy they won in Namibia in 2014.

Cameroon were runners-up for the second tournament in succession.

Ghana finished third after they beat South Africa 1-0 in the bronze medal match on Friday.

In a further development, the Nigerian squad refused to leave their hotel in Abuja until they were paid allowances and bonuses for winning the Cup.

The total owed to each player amounts to $23,650 per player.

More details in next week’s column.

Chelsea

Chelsea Ladies have signed Swiss international striker Ramona Bachmann until 2019. She will join the Blues in January 2017 when the transfer window opens.  All the early signs are that Chelsea will be the big spenders (relatively speaking) going into the new season.

Women in Football Awards

On Tuesday I attended the Women in Football Awards, which were held at the BBC TV Centre in London.

It was a night not without its hitches, but discretion forbids me from saying more….

The awards were given as follows:

Woman of Inspiration Award: Lucy Oliver
Journalist of the Year: Amy Lawrence
Club Best Practice Award: Susan Whelan (Leicester City)
Coach of the Year: Kelly Chambers (Reading LFC)
Player of the Year: Lucy Bronze
Performance of the Year: Scotland Women for qualifying for 2017 Euros
Referee of the Year: Mary Harmer
Women in Football Business Award: Amy O’Brien (Fulham FC)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Sylvia Gore
Woman of the Year: Dr Eva Carneiro

Kabaddi

Pakistan will be holding its first ever women’s Kabaddi National Championships in Lahore this December.

At least seven clubs are expected to take part including Islamabad, WAPDA, Higher Education Committee and the Pakistan Army.

The tournament starts on 14 December.

Pakistan Kabaddi Federation Secretary, Muhammad Sarwar is excited about the move:

“The event is a huge step forward.  We want to encourage girls to develop an interest in the sport and even represent the national side in the future,” he said.

Taekwondo

Jade Jones will be part of the British taekwondo team that is taking part at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix finals in Baku on Saturday.

The other women in the team are Bianca Walkden, Rachelle Booth and Charlie Maddock.

Cycling

The BBC revealed this week that British Cycling only found its former technical director Shane Sutton guilty on one of the charges laid against him by cyclist Jess Varnish.

He was found guilty of using the word “bitches” to Varnish but eight other charges were dismissed including Varnish’s key complaint that Sutton told her to “go and have a baby.”

Sutton was also cleared of using any other offensive or discriminatory language and all bullying allegations.

Varnish has responded to the report with shock.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“I am shocked and upset by this latest news and have instructed my solicitor to appeal against the findings of the internal investigation on my behalf.

“Having provided substantial evidence to back up my complaints, to now learn that the majority were not upheld is heartbreaking. I know what was said, and I know I’ve told the truth.

“I have requested from British Cycling the full investigation report to understand why the weight of evidence provided by me and others wasn’t sufficient for the board to uphold my complaints.”

Unfortunately, this story shows no sign of ending, with both sides unhappy with the results and British Cycling’s reputation taking a battering.

Cricket

Charlotte Edwards

Well it didn’t take long for former England captain Charlotte Edwards to announce her next move.  She has joined Hampshire.  She already sits as a non-executive director with Hampshire and Southern Vipers, so this clearly fits into the plan.

It will be a different experience for Edwards who is used to winning County Championships with Kent as Hampshire play in division two.

I surmise she will move into a coaching role once she finally hangs up her boots, but currently she clearly has an on-field contribution to make.

She will also be playing for the Adelaide Strikers in the upcoming WBBL.

Women’s Big Bash League

And talking of which, the WBBL starts this weekend.

The opening fixtures are:

10 December

Hobart Hurricanes v Perth Scorchers
Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Renegades
Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Stars

11 December

Melbourne Renegades v Adelaide Strikers
Perth Scorchers v Hobart Hurricanes
Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat

There are plenty of England players in action:

Charlotte Edwards and Tammy Beaumont are at the Strikers, the Hurricanes have England captain Heather Knight, Danni Wyatt is at the Renegades and the Stars have Dani Hazell and Nat Sciver.  Becky Grundy comes in for Anya Shrubsole until 29 December and will play alongside Katherine Brunt at the Perth Scorchers.

If you have access to BT Sport keep an eye out as they are covering some of the matches.

Women’s cricket in Bangladesh

This is a great initiative.  Please read this piece on developing women’s cricket in Bangladesh.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/04/breaking-boundaries-bangladesh-women-cricketers-charity

Rugby Union

Bristol were back to winning ways at the weekend.  The scores were as follows:

Lichfield Ladies 75-17 Wasps Ladies
DMP Sharks 15-29 Aylesford Bulls Ladies
Richmond Women 10-52 Saracens Women
Bristol Ladies 34-10 Worcester Valkyries

For a more in-depth report see here

Golf

Dubai Ladies Masters

After two rounds of the Dubai Masters, there are two English players at the top of the leaderboard.  Top is Felicity Johnson on -7 with Florentyna Parker two behind on -5.  Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark and Aditi Ashok of India are tied in third on -4.

Charley Hull is tied 23 on -1.

Tennis

There will be three women in the main draw of the Australian Open in January.  They are Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and Naomi Broady.  It was at the 2016 tournament that Konta made her first appearance in a Grand Slam semi-final.  Let’s hope she can repeat this form in 2017.

And finally,

Three cheers for the Government of South Australia which this week decided to withdraw its support for the hideous tradition of “podium girls” at the 2017 Tour Down Under.

You will have seen them – I’m not going to produce images – of scantily clad young women doing nothing much but providing “window dressing” for the presentation parties at cycling events.  And not before time, at least at this event, they will be no more.

Instead there will be a number of junior cyclists helping to present the prizes.

The same authority has already withdrawn its funding of “grid girls” at the Clipsal 500 motor race.

Let’s hope that’s the kick that other governments/governing bodies need.

Women’s Sports Column 26 November – 2 December

sarah-storeyWelcome to this week’s column.  Yet again there’s a lot to get through, so here we go.  This week’s stories come from hockey, tennis, football, rugby, sevens, boxing, netball, cricket, cycling and to match last week’s Action Woman shortlist, this week we look at the women shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.  This week’s “And finally” comes from tennis, and the ever-inspirational Serena Williams.

Hockey

I am the first to admit that I do not follow hockey with any diligence.  Consequently it appears only rarely in the column.  This didn’t stop me getting practically hysterical during the Olympic final, but I do realise that I should do more for this under-reported sport.

This is a shout-out to Martin, who regularly reminds me of my lack of hockey knowledge and coverage.

Premier League

On 26 November Surbiton Ladies beat second-placed Holcome 4-1 which meant they are unbeaten in 50 Premier League matches.

Surbiton’s last defeat was at home to Leicester in February 2014.

Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup

The World Cup takes place between 24 November and 4 December in Santiago, Chile.  Sixteen countries are involved, including England.

We are now at the semi-final stage.  England lost in the quarter-finals to Spain.  The quarter-final results were as follows:

Netherlands 5-0 Germany

Spain 5-3 England

Spain’s goals came from Garcia, Iglesias (2), Amundson, Serrahima

England’s goals came through Sanders, Crowson (2)

Argentina 2-0 USA

Australia 7-2 Belgium

The semi-finals are to be played on 2 December with the final on Sunday 4 December.

 And don’t forget, the full Women’s World Cup will be held in London from 7-21 July, 2018.  Tickets go on sale in 2017, so keep an eye out for that. 

 Football

 Netherlands 0-1 England

Tilburg 29 November 2016

 England’s unbeaten run now stands at 10 matches with this friendly win in Tilburg.

The first-half was tight but produced few chances.

The second-half saw an England improvement and the match was decided by a Jodie Taylor lob with 15 minutes to go.

 Under 20s Women’s World Cup

Semi-finals

North Korea 2-1 USA

(after extra time)

 

Japan 1-2 France

(after extra time)

The final will take place on 3 December.

Netball

The three-match test series between the England Roses and Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls is underway.

 29 November

Copper Box Arena London

 England 49-66

According to reports, Tracy Neville was furious with this England performance and they will need to improve in the next two to get anything at all from the series.

England were 16-12 up after the first quarter, but by half-time they were down 31-27.  After the half-time break Jamaica seemed t o go up a gear and stretched away to take the game.

The second game is at Belle Vue in Manchester on Friday 2 December, with the third on Sunday 4 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.  I’ll be there for the third game, so look out for a more detailed report next week.

Rugby Union

The big news from last weekend’s matches is the first defeat of the season for Bristol as they were thumped by Aylesford Bulls, but second placed Lichfield also slip up and miss out on the chance to close the gap.

26 November 2016

Saracens Women 27-0 Lichfield Ladies

Worcester Valkyries 50-29 Richmond Women

27 November 2016

Aylesford bulls Ladies 51-5 Bristol Ladies

Wasps Ladies 34-22 DMP Sharks Ladies

For a more in-depth report, please see my latest for Women’s Sports UK.

Rugby Sevens

The Dubai Sevens took place on 1-2 December

England

England reached the semi-finals.  They won their first match 31-7 against Spain and the second against Brazil, 28-7.  In the third, Canada took the honours 24-12.

In the quarter-finals they faced Fiji, producing and excellent display to win 19-17.  England scored first through a Fisher try which was not converted by Watmore.  Tinai made it 5-5 but was unable to add the extras.  In the second half Fiji took the lead with a try from A M Roqica, but the conversion was missed.  Nagasau made it 15-5 in the 12th minute and this was converted by Tinai.  But England were not to be outdone.  Tries from Richardson and Watmore and two conversions took the score to 19-17 and a semi-final against favourites, Australia.

Australia took the semi-final 31-10.  Two minutes in England were behind through a try from Caslick, which was converted by Dalton.  Brown struck back for England, but Richardson was unable to convert.  Then Tonegato scored for Australia, but Cherry missed the conversion and at half-time it was 5-12 to Australia.  Straight after the break the Aussies scored again, this time through Penitani.   The conversion was missed, but not long after Penitani scored her second try, this time complete with the extra two points from Cherry and the score was 5-24.  England’s fate was sealed when Brennan went in again, although the conversion was missed.  England had the last word with a try from Murphy, converted by Dalton to take the final score to 10-31.

In the Bronze Final England faced Russia.  Russia won 17-14 to take third place.  Zdrokova began the scoring in the second minute with a try, but Kudinova couldn’t convert.   Zdrokova went over for her second just before half-time, again unconverted to take the score to 10-0 to Russia at the break.  In the second-half Brennan scored a try for England which was converted by Richardson.  Then Russia scored again, this time through Mikhaltsova, converted by Kudiniova.  England managed one more try from Fleming, converted by Cattell, but the game was gone.

 

Ireland

Ireland lost their first game 27-5 to New Zealand and their second, 24-14 to France.   They came back with an excellent 17-17 draw against Fiji.

They played USA in the Challenge Trophy semi-finals, winning it 28-5.

And they won the final 14-12 against Spain.  Spain took the lead in the final with a try from Garcia which she also converted.  They went 12-0 up in the seventh minute through Casado, but Garcia missed the extras.  The second-half was a different matter as Ireland fought hard to get back into it.  Williams scored a try two minutes in, which was converted by Mulhall.  Then Mulhall went over for Ireland’s second to level it at 12-12 and then she put over the conversion to put them in the lead, and to secure the Challenge Trophy.

Dubai Women’s Sevens Final

New Zealand 17-5 Australia

New Zealand came out on top in the gold medal match in Dubai.

New Zealand took the lead with a try from Woodman after two minutes.  Nathan-Wong missed the conversion.  Just one minute later Cordero-Tufuga went over again, but again it went unconverted.  Australia came back into with a try through Cherry but Sykes missed the conversion.  But New Zealand were not finished and a second from Cordero-Tufuga, this time converted by Nathan-Wong saw New Zealand take the title 17-5.

Round Two of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series will be in Sydney on 3-4 February 2017.

Boxing

Katie Taylor’s professional career got off to a perfect start on Saturday when she stopped her Polish opponent, Karina Kopinska in the third round.

Her second bout will be against Brazil’s Viviane Obenauf on 10 December in Manchester.  Obenauf has only suffered one defeat in ten contests and should provide a much stiffer test for Taylor.

Tennis

Anne Keothavong has been appointed GB Fed Cup captain and senior national women’s coach.

She takes over from Judy Murray as Fed Cup captain.

GB begins its Fed Cup campaign in Estonia in February 2017.

 

In a surprise move, Johanna Konta has split with her coach of two years, Esteban Carill.

2016 has been Konta’s breakthrough year, a year in which she won her first WTA Tour title at Stanford and reached a career-high world ranking of ten.

Cricket

Charlotte Edwards

The big cricket news this week is undoubtedly the announcement that former England captain, Charlotte Edwards, is to leave Kent.

In a press release issued by Kent CCC Edwards is quoted,

“I would like to thank everyone at Kent County Cricket Club for all their support over the past 18 years. I’m immensely proud to have played for the county and what the team has achieved within that time.

“Kent is very much seen as one of the leading counties within the women’s game due to it consistently producing players to the England Pathway.

“It’s been a really tough decision to leave Kent but ultimately I feel it’s the right decision for me and more importantly the current team. Having won the double in 2016 I feel this is a fitting end to my time as a Kent cricketer.”

Edwards joined Kent in 2000 and with them has won seven County Championships.

Her personal record speaks for itself.  In her Kent career she played 136 matches and scored 6,164 runs at an average of 61.64.  She made 40 half-centuries and 14 centuries.

She also took 124 wickets at an average of 17.51 and claimed 81 catches.

Edwards will, undoubtedly, stay in cricket and it remains to be seen just what her next move will be.

Cycling

Bad news this week from Dame Sarah Storey.  You may remember that it was only in June that I attended the launch of Storey’s all-women Podium Ambition team at Café Ventoux in Leicestershire.

It was expected that the café would be the base for the 2017 season, but after just one season the team has had to disband due to lack of sponsorship funding.  In an interview with The Mixed Zone Storey says,

“We have been unable to secure sufficient cash input to remain a UCI-registered team. We spent the last 12 months searching for a title sponsor to start with us from 2017, but despite many brands being interested, there was nothing concrete in place in time for the deadline to register the team again.

“Barney and I spent 2016 covering the lion’s share of the budget ourselves and without that money in our savings now, we don’t have a back-up. The cost of running even a small UCI team is significant and we weren’t going to continue struggling.”

It is well worth reading the whole article, so here’s the link.

The news is unbelievably disappointing.  At the launch there was a good deal of optimism and good will. Chris Boardman was there with his bikes and the team looked good.  But unfortunately, it’s just another example of the woeful levels of corporate investment in women’s sport.  And the scary thing is that if some of the biggest names in the sport, Dame Sarah Storey, Barney Storey, Chris Boardman, can’t attract sponsorship, what chance does any lesser, but aspiring name have? 

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016

In what has been a stellar year for sport, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist is 16-strong.   There are six women on the list:

Nicola Adams (Boxing)

Sophie Christiansen (Equestrian)

Kadeena Cox (Athletics and cycling)

Laura Kenny (Cycling)

Kate Richardson-Walsh (Hockey)

Dame Sarah Storey (Cycling)

The public vote for this award via telephone during the live show on 18 December.

 

In the Young Personality of the Year award the shortlist is 10.  Out of these, eight are women/girls:

Ellie Downie (Gymnastics and winner of the 2015 award)

Sophie Ecclestone (Cricket)

Ellie Robinson (Swimming)

Lauren Rowles (Rowing)

Georgia Stanway (Football)

Jess Stretton (Archery)

Rebekah Tiler (Weight lifting)

Amy Tinkler (Gymnastics)

This award is decided by expert panel.

 

And Finally, Serena Williams has written an open letter in Porter Magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue.  In it she re-iterates her themes of equality and fairness.

The Guardian has reprinted the letter:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/29/dream-big-open-letter-serena-williams-porter-magazine-incredible-women-of-2016-issue-women-athletes

The first two responses in the comments section are:

“Jason Stoltenberg was a much better tennis player than Serena Williams. Williams would struggle to get a couple of games off him. But Williams has made much more money than Stoltenberg.  What’s her beef?”

‘My dream was to be the best tennis player in the world.’  Well she quite clearly failed in that regard. She wouldn’t even beat the 200th-ranked male tennis player. Why does she continue trotting out this garbage? She should be happy with what she’s achieved.”

Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this is the standard in a “quality” newspaper.  Needless to say quite a few responses have been removed by the moderator, and many others are worse than those listed.  Missing the point?  Er, yes, just slightly.  The world should be grateful for women like Serena speaking up, telling her story and making her case.  In the twenty-first century any woman speaking out is still met with hostility, cynicism and scorn.  I’m happy to post the link to this letter and encourage all of you to read it.

 

Women’s Sports Column 23-30 September

womens-sport-week-portrait-e1469449420244Welcome to this week’s column.  Plenty of things to talk about again this week including stories from tennis, football, cricket, sailing and rugby.  The “And finally” this week is another good new story – and a call to action to all of you out there!

Tennis

It’s been a big tennis week as the world’s top players are still fighting for the right to play in the WTA Finals tournament in Singapore.

On Sunday, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki beat Japan’s Naomi Osaka 7-5 6-3 to claim the Pan Pacific Open title in Tokyo for the second time.

It was Osaka’s biggest game and she fought hard, especially in the second set when she came from 5-0 down to take it as far as 6-3.

The Wuhan Open began this week and we are now at the quarter-final stage.

Britain’s number one, Johanna Konta had been playing well up until this stage but she met an in-form Petra Kvitova on 29 September and was blown away.  Kvitova had already put paid to the top seed, Angelique Kerber, in the third round, 6-7 7-5 6-4.

Konta met Kvitova at exactly the wrong time and was well beaten, 6-3 6-4.

In the other quarter finals fourth seed Simona Halep beat eighth seed Madison Keys 6-4 6-2, ninth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova beat third seed Agnieszka Radwanska 1-6 7-6 6-4 and tenth seed Dominika Cibulkova beat the unseeded Barbora Strycova 6-3 3-6 6-4.

The semi-final line-up will be Kuznetsova v Cibulkova and Kvitova v Halep.

Britain’s number two, Heather Watson did not even make it through her first match as she was forced to pull out through illness.  She withdrew complaining of dizziness and a stomach bug.  She had already suffered with dizziness at the US Open.

 

Cricket

Indian cricket’s governing body, the BCCI has announced that opening batter Smriti Mandhana will become only the second Indian player to be signed up for Australia’s Women’s Big Bash.  The 20- year old will play for Brisbane Heat.

“It feels great t be a part of Big Bash,” she is quoted as saying.

“I’ve always been looking forward to playing in that tournament. And getting this opportunity to participate at such a young age and getting to gain good experience from it, will help me immensely in the future.

“I’m very fortunate to have been signed with them.”

In other cricket news, Charlotte Edwards has been awarded the Cricket Writers’ Club Women’s Cricket Award at the club’s 70th anniversary ceremony.

This is the first time the women’s prize has been awarded.  Yes, you read correctly – the first time in 70 years.  To put it into context, the first CWC Young Player of the Year Award (this year won by Ben Duckett) was first awarded in 1950……..

The judging panel was chaired by the BBC’s Alison Mitchell.

“Charlotte Edwards has spent much of her career breaking new ground so she is a highly appropriate first winner,” she saidl.

At the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) Awards, Tammy Beaumont was named Women’s Player of the Summer.  Her aggregate of 342 runs was a record for a three-match series.  She followed this with 142 runs in the T20 series and played in the Kent team that won both the Royal London County Championship and the Natwest T20 competition.

 

Sailing with Abby Ehler

Big news in high performance sailing: For the first time in the 11 year history of the Extreme Sailing Series™, Sharon Ferris-Choat will lead an all-female team at the penultimate event of the year in Lisbon next weekend. The new team are sure to attract plenty of attention with a Thalassa Magenta Racing crew roster that includes some of the world’s most successful female sailors. The race crew will be selected from a star-studded line-up including ocean racers Dee Caffari (GBR), Elodie Mettraux (SUI) and Abby Ehler (GBR); Olympians Sally Barkow (USA), Annie Lush (GBR) and Gemma Jones (NZL); Olympic Silver medalist Annemieke Bes (NED), Nacra 17 World Silver medallist Hannah Diamond (GBR) and 420 World and European champion Annabel Vose (GBR).

Ferris-Choat commented:

“To be the first all-female crew in the Extreme Sailing Series is a proud moment for all the women in our GC32 Squad. We have so many women wanting to compete at an elite level of sailing – there is a absolute need to create this opportunity.”

The event can be followed here: http://www.extremesailingseries.com

 

Football

Manchester City were crowned champions of FAWSL1 on Sunday after beating Chelsea 2-0 at the Academy Stadium.  They only needed one point to win the title with a game still to go, but they did it in style with a fine win over a lacklustre Chelsea side.

Manchester City Women 2-0 Chelsea Ladies

The first goal came from a Jill Scott header deflected into her own goal by Katie Chapman.  The points, and championship, were sealed five minutes after half-time through a Toni Duggan penalty.  And although the goals sound as if a bit of luck was involved, in truth City were much the better side.

A fantastic crowd of just over 4,000 were there to witness City crowned champions for the first time.

Saturday 24 September

Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-4 Reading FC Women

Another week, another loss for the Belles as they remain rooted to the bottom of the table and yet to take a point.

Reading were also looking for their first win of the season.  The visitors were two up at half-time through as Emma Follis scored in the ninth minute and defender Nia Jones bagged a second in the 37th.  When Emily Simpkins pulled one back for Belles just after the break, there was still everything to play for.

However, a second for Follis and a fourth for the team from Rachel Rowe secured the points for Reading and saw them jump up the table and out of the relegation zone.

 

Sunday 25 September

 Birmingham City Ladies 2-1 Liverpool

 Birmingham will need all the confidence boosting they can get if they are to overcome Manchester City in the Continental Tyres Cup Final this weekend.  The win over Liverpool on Sunday was a perfect warm-up.

Corina Schroder scored the first on her Birmingham debut on 50 minutes.  Liverpool levelled it with a Katie Zelem penalty, but Birmingham were not to be outdone and in the 70th minute defender Kerys Harrop scored the winner that takes the Blues to fourth in the table.

Notts County Ladies 2-1 Sunderland AFC ladies

The Lady Pies had to come from behind at home to beat Sunderland on Sunday.  The visitors took the lead in injury time of the first half through Victoria Williams.

But County regrouped and came out refreshed in the second-half.  A header from Rachel Williams levelled the score and Jess Clarke, again with a header, scored a second on 68 minutes to seal the win for County.

Off the pitch pioneering football journalist and broadcaster, Jacqui Oatley was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Wolverhampton this week.

She received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree for her contribution to sports broadcasting and for promoting opportunity for women.

 

Rugby Union

Worcester Valkyries 10 -60 Bristol Ladies.

Bristol is still the team to beat in the Premiership as they made it three from three with a thumping win over Worcester Valkyries at Sixways on Sunday.  They ran in nine tries, taking the bonus point on the way.

Other scores

Saracens Women 34-14 Richmond Ladies

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 45-5 DMP Sharks

Wasps Ladies 26-33 Lichfield Ladies

For more information on the above matches, please see my weekend round up for Women’s Sports UK.  

 

And finally, October 3-10 is Women’s Sports Week (I know, we think every week should be women’s sports week). 

The initiative, now in its second year, is the brainchild of Women in Sport.

Next week, individuals, teams, clubs, companies and organisations all over Britain will be going all-out to promote women’s sport.

Obviously I’ll be there to stick my oar in – probably more than once.  Watch out for my “pithy” comments on Twitter @PennyHopkins3 and articles on my website.

The BBC is contributing with Body Talk, as they describe it, “an intimate and interactive discussion on body image issues for women in and around sport.”

Those taking part include Hannah Cockcroft, So Solid Crew’s [sorry lost me there) Lisa Maffia, Joanna Rowsell Shand, boxer Natasha Jones, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and many more.

The event takes place in Liverpool on 6 October at 2pm and will be broadcast live on the BBC Sport and BBC Radio 1Xtra websites.

If this isn’t for you, can I suggest you read about, watch, talk about and generally big-up women’s sport next week with as many people as possible.  We are getting there, but it’s very, very slow.  The more people who realise that a woman on a pitch, on the touchline, in the press box or the boardroom is not only “normal”, but admirable, the better.  Let’s do it!  Let’s shout about it!

Women’s Sports Column 14-20 May

POswU50y0C-Tarbosaurus,dinosaurs,pictures_of_dinosaurs,Cretaceous,carnivores-034

Welcome to the column. This week’s stories from football, cricket, swimming, canoeing, tennis and netball, with the only possible “And finally” that there can be.

The SSE Women’s FA Cup Final took place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 14 May. It was the second year that the BBC had televised it live. A crowd of 32,912 saw Arsenal defeat the holders, Chelsea with a stunning goal from Dan Carter. I wrote a report for Women’s Sports UK. You can read it here: http://www.womenssportsuk.com/football/match-report/arsenal-win-sse-fa-cup-with-spectacular-carter-goal

There were also some league matches this week:

13 May

Chelsea Ladies 0-2 Manchester City Women
Staines

Manchester City remain unbeaten in the FAWSL after completing an impressive away win over Chelsea. Demi Stokes scored the first in the first half with Jennifer Beattie doubling the score in the second. It capped a miserable week for Chelsea who lost out to Arsenal in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Sunderland Ladies 0-4 Liverpool Ladies
Hetton Centre

A comprehensive win for Liverpool saw them move up to third in the table. Rosie White scored the first with Alex Greenwood putting away a penalty for the second. An unfortunate own goal from Steph Bannon made it three and Katie Zelem got the fourth. Sunderland are still looking for their first win of the season.

Birmingham City Ladies 0-0 Reading Ladies
Solihull Moors

Reading were also looking for their first win of the season, and although they couldn’t secure all three points, they were happy to leave with the draw. In a disappointing televised game, chances were few and far between and the close control was poor. Birmingham are now unbeaten in four games, but were left rueing the few chances they had.

Did you know the women’s under 17 European Championships have been happening over the last couple of weeks? Not if you only look in the mainstream media. England’s women finished third after winning the play-off for bronze against Norway.

They had been beaten in the semi-final by, yes you guessed it, Germany, 3-4, but came back well to triumph against the Norwegians to claim a place at the Under 17s World Cup in Jordan later this year.

Eventual winners, Germany, and runners-up, Spain, also qualified.

Niamh Charles scored both goals to take the win.

In a turn of amazing news, FIFA has appointed Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura from Senegal as its new Secretary General. She has plenty of high-level experience, having spent 21 years at the United Nations. She replaces Jerome Valke, who was banned from football for 12 years after his conviction for corruption.

“She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organisations perform. Importantly for Fifa, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organisation,” said FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino.

Unhappy news from cricket this week as Sarah Taylor has announced an indefinite break from cricket for “personal reasons”. Hot on the heels of Charlotte Edwards’ forced retirement last week, this is a blow for Head of Women’s Cricket Clare Connor and coach Mark Robinson. It is not known whether she will be back for the visit of Pakistan in June or Sri Lanka later in the summer. She is also due to be an essential part of Lancashire Thunder’s quest to win the inaugural Kia Super League.

In better news, the ECB awards were held this week. Women’s Cricketer of the Year Award went to Anya Shrubsole. Last season she took 32 wickets for England and has put herself forward to replace Charlotte Edwards as Captain. And talking of Edwards, she was voted fans’ Women’s Player of the Year.

There were some interesting league fixtures last weekend. Kent continue to set the pace:

Berkshire v Warwickshire
Wokingham

Berkshire 186 all out (48.1 overs)
Warwickshire 200/9
Warwickshire win by 14 runs

Warwickshire won the toss and elected to bat. They put on an impressive 200/9 with Anna Lanning the pick of the batters with 54. Best bowling came from putative England captain, Heather Knight, who took two for 13 off her 10 overs, bowling seven maidens in the process.

Berkshire’s reply started well as the first wicket didn’t fall until 97 was on the board, when Linsey Smith was bowled by Georgia Davis for 40. However the next five wickets fell for just 39 runs with only Knight holding the fort. They were lucky to get as close to their target as they did with Hennessey pick of the bowlers taking four for 32 off her 10 overs.

Kent v Middlesex
Canterbury

Kent 94/4 (20.2 overs)
Middlesex 92 all out (38.5 overs)
Kent win by 6 wickets

Easy win for Kent at Canterbury as they dismissed Middlesex for just 92 and went on to reach their target in just over 20 overs.

The top five batters only scored 21 between them with a lethal spell from Tash Farrant doing the damage as she got Sophia Dunkley (2), Natasha Miles (4) and Catherine Dalton (0) with Alice Davidson- Richards taking Anna Nicholls’ (9) wicket in between the latter two.

Kent are a class outfit with superstars at every turn. It seemed inevitable, after the horror show of a week for Charlotte Edwards, that she should play a decisive innings. She was 30 not out at the end and Kent won at a canter.

Somerset v Sussex
Bath

Somerset 126 all out (38.5 overs)
Sussex 127/3 (28.1 overs)
Sussex win by 7 wickets

Somerset opener Gwenan Davies went for a four-ball duck, bowled all ends up by Izi Noakes. There was a semblance of a recovery from Georgina Adcock (28), Sophie Luff (26) and Anya Shrubsole (14) as they took the score to 94/4, but after that the lower order collapsed with only Kate Randall, coming in at nine, getting into double figures. The destroyer of the innings was Georgia Elwiss who took a stunning six for 17 off eight overs.

Elwiss, who is becoming a useful all-rounder, then did her bit with the bat. She opened the innings and scored 45 before she was caught by Sophie Luff off the bowling of Nicole Richards. But Sussex never looked in trouble, seeing it home in just over 28 overs.

I published my interview with Salliann Briggs, Head Coach of Loughborough Lightning cricket, this week.  Here’s the link if you would like to read it:

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/news/loughborough-lightning-not-just-a-flash-in-the-pan

There were some good performances by British swimmers at the European Swimming Championships in London this week.

Among the best were:

Great Britain’s mixed relay team gold in the 4 x 100m

Fran Halsall grabbing bronze in the 50m butterfly

Jazz Carlin’s silver in the 800m freestyle

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Hannah Miley – silver and bronze respectively in the 200m individual medley

Chloe Tutton’s bronze in the 100m breaststroke behind Lithuania’s amazing Ruta Meilutyte.

 

Canoeing doesn’t get featured much in this column, but I’m always looking to expand the number of sports covered.

It was the European Championships in Liptovsky, Slovakia this week. The women’s K1 trio of Fiona Pennie, Lizzie Neave and Kimberley Woods took gold, beating Germany by more than four seconds. Mallory Franklin also took gold in the C1. She originally finished in second to Australia’s Jess Fox, but Fox was later penalised 50 points and Franklin moved up into the gold position.

 

Serena Williams beat Madison Keys in straight sets, 76 63, to win the Italian Open this week. It was her first WTA title for nine months. It was her 70th career title.

The French Open begins next week and the British players have tough draws:

Johanna Konta v Julia Goerges

Heather Watston v Nicole Gibbs

Laura Robson v Andrea Petkovic (very tough)

Naomi Broady v Coco Vandeweghe

 

There was a feast of netball at Northumbria University this week as Netball Europe’s Open Championship took place. The tournament winners were the England Roses.

The Championship was contested by England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

England started the action against Northern Ireland and put in a dazzling display to take the game 83-32. England then beat Scotland Thistles 70-26. The deciding game came against Wales, who were also unbeaten up to this point, beating Scotland 49-36 and Northern Ireland 54-38.

After the first quarter England were just 17-14 up, but by half-time England were beginning to pull away, stretching their lead to 38-23. In the latter two quarters England began to put on the style, eventually coming out victorious by 81-42 and taking the title of Netball Europe Open Champions.

 

And finally, this week Muirfield Golf Club, in its wisdom, failed to secure the two-thirds majority vote it needed to allow it to begin to admit women members. Consequently the R&A stripped it of the right to host The Open. Just about everyone has seen the sense of this sanction. Of course, Peter Alliss suggested that if women wanted to use the facilities of members, they should marry one of the current members….. Must give a mention to a tweet I saw, can’t remember who it was, but it was excellent, who said that the decision would also include a change of name for the club….. to Jurassic Park.

Women’s Sports Column 7-13 May

Charlotte-Edwards-award-300x197Plenty more interesting stuff this week, and although we’d love to see it in the mainstream press emblazoned all over the back pages, it’s not, so I’m happy to say you can read it all here  instead.

This week’s stories come from cricket, judo, netball, tennis, football, rowing and diving, plus another groaner from tennis in “And finally”.

Only one story for me this week (don’t worry, I will cover more).

England cricket captain Charlotte Edwards retired from international cricket on Wednesday. Needless to say I immediately put finger to keyboard to add my contribution to the thousands of words produced on that day in tribute to this brilliant cricketer:

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/news/end-of-an-era-as-england-captain-charlotte-edwards-retires-from-internation.

At the time there was some debate about why she had made the announcement – I said, “Did she fall or was she pushed?” Unfortunately it became clear later in the day that it was the latter. She admitted that it was “a complete shock” as she revealed that Head of Women’s Cricket at the ECB and new Head Coach Mark Robinson informed her that they wished to take the captaincy away from her. Apparently she thought she would be able to continue in the team, but then was further stunned to find that she was not to be part of Robinson’s plans in any way.

I have real doubts as to the wisdom of this move, as I outline in my piece above. This round-up is not the forum for this discussion, but I would just say that Edwards still has plenty to offer. Her England career, in my view, has been brought to a premature end. Please read my piece for a list of Edwards’ biggest achievements.

My favourite Twitter tribute comes from cricket writer Vithushan;

“She fought to play, she fought to win, then fought again & won even more. Charlotte Edwards fought so those after her wouldn’t have to.”

In better cricket news, the ECB announced this week that the England team will travel to Jamaica in October to play five one-day matches against T20 World Champions, West Indies.

The first two games will be at the Trelawny Stadium and the other three at Sabina Park in Kingston. If anyone would like to pay me to go out to Jamaica to cover this series, I am happy to do it (seriously).

 

News, good and bad, from judo this week. Terrible news emerged today that Scottish Commonwealth silver medallist judoka, Stephanie Inglis, is in a coma after a motorbike accident in Vietnam. She had been teaching English there and was on her way to the school in Ha Long in NE Vietnam, when it is thought her dress caught in the wheel of the bike and she was dragged off the machine. She suffered extensive head injuries in the accident.

In competition news British judoka Alice Schlesinger won her first Grand Slam event since 2012 when she beat Marijana Miskovic Hasanbegovic from Croatia in Baku this week in the -63kg category just 27 seconds into the final.

There was also a silver medal for Nekoda Davis in the -57kg category.

In a fitting finale for the netball Superleague season on Saturday, defending champions, Surrey Storm, retained their title in a pulsating victory over Manchester Thunder 55-53 at the Copper Box in London.

It looked to be all over by half-time with Storm’s 32-19 lead, but Thunder mounted an incredible comeback which nearly led to the win, but they fell just short, leaving Storm hanging on to take the title.

In the third place play-off Team Bath beat Hertfordshire Mavericks in another tight game 49-48.

I don’t say this often, but at this point I would like to congratulate Sky Sports on their coverage of the netball this season. It has been committed and regular and of an excellent standard. No wonder netball is one of the fastest growing sports for women in Britain.

 

The Madrid Open last weekend was claimed by world number seven, Simona Halep, as she beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-4.

Some good signs for British women’s tennis at the Italian Open in Rome this week. British number one, Johanna Konta reached the third round with some impressive tennis, but ultimately she will be disappointed with her exit at the hands of Misaki Doi of Japan 4-6 7-5 6-2. Doi is 22 places below Konta in the world rankings. However, her recent form has secured her a seeding for the French Open.

Heather Watson had to come through qualifying to get into the main draw. In the first round she recorded an excellent win against world number 18 and home favourite, Sara Errani, 6-4 3-6 6-0. Unfortunately she couldn’t repeat this form in round two and lost to world number 36 Barbora Strycova, 6-4 6-2.

In other tennis news it was announced that Andy Murray has split with his coach Amélie Mauresmo. Since giving birth to her first child last year, Mauresmo has struggled to combine her coaching commitments with being French Fed Cup captain and commitments to her family.

Needless to say the announcement was the cue for those with a sexist agenda to cry out that he should never have appointed a woman in the first place. But Murray has been vigorous in his defence of Mauresmo, pointing out that such issues do not only affect women, citing the case of Stefan Edberg who gave up coaching Roger Federer to spend more time with his family. He also insisted that the two years spent with Mauresmo have developed both his physical game and mental approach.

Two games to catch-up on in the FAWSL.

Sunday 8 May

Chelsea 6-3 Liverpool

A goal-fest at Wheatsheaf Park saw Chelsea Ladies put six past Liverpool Ladies take the points to maintain their winning start to the season.

Liverpool went ahead in the match through a goal from Zelem, but the Blues came back to be 4-1 up at half-time with goals from Carney, Kirby, Spence and Aluko.

Liverpool were better in the second half but couldn’t convert their chances. Chelsea showed them how to do it as Kirby and Spence each got their second to take them to a convincing win.

Notts County Ladies 0-1 Birmingham City Ladies

Notts County couldn’t follow up on their good win against Liverpool last week as a single goal from Emily Westwood gave Birmingham City the win at Meadow Lane.

The teams couldn’t be separated at half-time, but some sloppy defending from County saw Westwood head in from Jo Potter’s free kick.

 

At the European Rowing Championships in Germany over the weekend, Britain took seven medals in total (men and women).

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning retained their women’s pairs title and there was also gold for the women’s eight who beat the Netherlands by 0.37 to take the title.

Katherine Grainger and her new partner Vicky Thornley could only finish fourth in the women’s double sculls.

Kat Copeland and Charlotte Taylor missed out on the A final of the lightweight women’s sculls but finished second in the B final on Sunday.

 

It was also the 2016 European Aquatics Championships this week, held at the Olympic Park Aquatics Centre in London.

This year is the first that mixed competition has been included.

Britain’s Georgia Ward and Matty Lee won team bronze alternating 10m platform and 3m springboard to score 353.85 from their six dives. Gold was taken by Russia’s Nadezhda Bazhina and Viktor Minibaev with 413.30 points with the Ukrainian pair of Iuliia Prokopchuk and Oleksandr Gorshkovozov in silver position with 396.40.

Grace Reid and Tom Daley won gold in the mixed 3m synchronised event with a score of 321.06. Silver went to the Italian pairing of Tania Cagnotto and Maicol Verzotto and bronze to Nadezhda Bazhina and Nikita Shleikher of Russia.

 

And finally, I was listening to BBC 5 Live Sports Extra’s coverage of the men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray when a discussion ensued about scheduling. Barry Flatman, the “expert” summariser was bemoaning the fact that the men’s final was at a strange time on the Sunday, while the women’s was at a better time on the Saturday. His comment was, “perhaps the women’s final could be moved to the morning and it can be played as a preamble to the men’s”. Yes. Really. He really said that.

 

More cricket as the group stages come to a close

cricket-ballWhat a day Wednesday 30 March will be as England’s women take on Australia in the first semi-final of the women’s tournament and England’s men follow on the same pitch later in the day as they face New Zealand in their semi.  It’s either going to be an excellent day, or a horrible, horrible, one…..

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/match-report/england-inflict-crushing-defeat-on-pakistan-to-finish-top-of-group-b

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/news/womens-world-t20-day-13-report

Individuals to follow – Resources for women interested in sport part 3

While I’m on a roll, let’s crack straight on with some of the individuals and the odd blog you should follow if you want to keep up with what’s happening in women’s sport.

But first, I need to make good another omission from my last blog,  To be honest, I just couldn’t decide whether to put them in as they cover men’s as well as women’s football, but on reflection I think that’s a bit churlish.  So, undoubtedly, the best podcast (and should be listed merely because it has the best name) is The Offside Rule (We Get it!). Although it has become (relatively) famous for its female-fronted podcast, the website also contains blogs, features, columns and a whole lot more.  Kate Borsay, Lynsey Hooper and Hayley McQueen are the brains behind the podcast although their team seems to be growing daily.  It’s erudite, knowledgeable and humorous and I urge you to give it a go.  It can become seriously addictive!

Right, on to individuals.  As you will know, there are so many incredible women out there trying to spread the gospel of women’s sport.  I can only cover a few, but they are some of my favourites.  Some have websites, but mostly I follow them on Twitter.  Despite its totally hideous, trolling side and its propensity to triviality, Twitter can be useful for information.  You’ve just got to follow the right people!

@ConnorCricket Clare Connor is Director of Women’s Cricket at the ECB.  News from the top of women’s cricket.  What more do you need to know?

@AlisonMitchell One of my favourite broadcasters, who has worked so hard to be “mainstream” in cricket.  Brilliant broadcasting about gymnastics too.

@Lottie2323  This is for fun.  England captain, Charlotte Edwards doesn’t usually impart great items of cricketing wisdom, but it is fun and gives you some idea of what it’s like to be a professional cricketer.

@ShelleyBBC One of the most influential women in sport in this country – Shelley Alexander is Editorial lead for women’s sport on the BBC.  She retweets an amazing amount of information on an incredible range of sports.  Very knowledgeable and crusades constantly for women’s sport.

@clarebalding Brilliant broadcaster and “national treasure”.  Always surprises me how much work she does so that she knows exactly what she’s talking about on whatever subject she’s been given.

@RuthHoldaway Chief Executive of Women in Sport.

@SallyHancock1 Chair of Women in Sport and expert in sports marketing and sponsorship.  A loud voice in the quest for equality in media coverage, sponsorship and pay in women’s sport.

@EllyOldroyd Another one of my favourite broadcasters.  Well-respected voice of Radio 5 Live.

@judmoo Judy Murray often tweets pictures of cake and desserts, but is the ambassador for tennis.  Contrary to popular belief, she’s not just Andy and Jamie Murray’s Mother….

@Tanni_GT Always erudite, and a tireless advocate for disability sports, Tanni Grey-Thompson is great to follow.  Gives a whole new perspective on sport and everything Welsh!

@annaedwards3 Anna Edwards is Producer of the Sportswomen programme on Sky.

@Anna_Kessel Writes for the Guardian and the Observer and is Co-Founder and Chair of Women In Football.  Always a pleasure to read, and always fighting for women’s sport.

Shameful to admit, but I don’t read many blogs.  If anyone out there can recommend any good women’s sports blogs, I’d be grateful.  The one I never miss, though, is womens-cricket.blogspot.co.uk.  Written beautifully by Martin Davies and a must for women’s cricket fans.

So there we are.  I could keep going for a while yet, but if you just try a few of these to start with you won’t regret it.