Women’s Sports Column 12-18 May 2018

fieldhockeysticksWelcome to this week’s column.  Plenty again to get into this week.  Sorry I missed doing a full report on the FA Cup final as it was a great match – so just a quick review.  Stories this week come from tennis, football, rugby league, hockey, cricket, netball, sports administration and rugby union.  Plus, this week’s “And Finally” is a positive news story about a brilliant new campaign launched by Women in Football. 

So let’s crack on.

Hockey

It’s the Women’s EuroHockey Club Cup in Surbiton over the next four days.  Play is already underway.  English hopes lie with Surbiton, the current Investec Premier League champions, while the Republic of Ireland is represented by UCD Ladies.

So far the results have been:

17 May

    • Mannheim (GER) 0-1 Hamburg (GER)
    • AH & BC Amsterdam (NED) 8-0 UCD Ladies (IRL)
    • ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) 5-0 Victorya Smolevichi (BLR)
    • Club Campo de Madrid (ESP) 2-0 Surbiton (ENG)

We then go into a series of fixtures as follows:

18 May

    • UCD Ladies (Loser M2) v Mannheim (Loser M1)
    • Victorya Smolevichi (Loser M3) v Surbiton (Loser M4)

19 May

    • AH & BC Amsterdam (Winner M2) v Hamburg (Winner M1)
    • ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Winner M3) v Club Campo de Madrid (Winner M4)

20 May

    • Loser M5 v Loser M6 (7th/8th place)
    • Winner M5 v Winner M6 (5th/6th place)
    • Loser SF1 v Loser SF2 (3rd/4th place)
    • Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (Final!)

Football – on the Pitch

Both FAWSL titles have been decided.  Chelsea secured the WSL 1 title on Tuesday, while Doncaster Rovers Belles were crowned champions on Sunday.

WSL1 Results

Saturday 12 May
Yeovil Town 0-2 Bristol City
Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City
Reading FC 3-0 Liverpool
Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland AFC

Sunday 13 May
Everton 0-3 Birmingham City

Tuesday 15 May
Bristol City 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea secured the WSL1 title, and league and Cup double on Tuesday with a fine away win at Bristol City.  Drew Spence opened the scoring on 10 minutes and they maintained this one-goal lead until the 88th minute when Jonna Andersson sealed it with the second.  Their final game of the season is away at Liverpool on Sunday, when all games kick off at 12.30pm.

Wednesday 16 May
Manchester City 5-0 Yeovil Town
Sunderland AFC 0-2 Arsenal

WSL2 Results

Saturday 12 May
London Bees 0-0 Sheffield FC

Sunday 13 May
Durham 4-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Aston Villa 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Oxford United 1-2 Watford
Millwall Lionesses 0-1 Doncaster Rovers Belles

The Belles had already sealed their championship win on Wednesday with a 2-1 win at Sheffield FC.  On Sunday they won again against the Lionesses with a Jade Pennock deflected shot.  Doncaster will not be promoted, however, as they applied to be in the new Women’s Championship (replacing WSL2) next season.  Their last game of the season is on Sunday 20 May when they are at home to Oxford United.  All games kick off at 2pm.

Wednesday 16 May
Watford 0-5 Sheffield FC

FA Cup Final
Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea

I was sorry to miss out on reporting more fully on the FA Cup final, which took place on 5 May, particularly as it was a cracking, competitive match and a record crowd of 45,423 saw a great advertisement for women’s football.

What a game for Ramona Bachmann, who has so often flattered to deceive for Chelsea.  After a quiet, even first half, the game needed a spark.  Enter Bachmann who scored twice to completely change the complexion of the game and take it away from Arsenal.

Disappointingly, some of Arsenal’s big names, including a particularly subdued Jordan Nobbs, just couldn’t up the tempo when needed.

Two great strikes by Bachmann were the difference. She scored on 48 and 60, ripping the heart out of Arsenal.  Vivianne Miedema pulled one back for the Gunners on 73, but the resurgence was short-lived.  Just three minutes later Fran Kirby got into the action, slotting home a fine shot to make it 3-1.

Football – off the pitch

Chelsea captain Katie Chapman has announced that she will retire from playing at the end of this season at the age of 35.

In a distinguished career, Chapman won 94 England caps, taking part in two World Cups and three European Championships.

Domestically, she played for Millwall, Fulham, Charlton, Arsenal and Chelsea, winning 10 FA Cups in total.

Since joining Chelsea in 2014, she has won the FA Cup/league double in 2015, the WSL Spring Series in 2017 and the 2018 FA Cup.

She will now take up an ambassadorial role with Chelsea.

Cricket

Exciting news from women’s cricket this week.  There will be a women’s T20 exhibition match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai before the first IPL Qualifier on Tuesday May 22.

It will be broadcast live around the world and also live on Sky Cricket from 9.20am.  Make no mistake, this is a big thing for women’s cricket in India and it could pave the way for a future women’s IPL.

Many of the superstars of the women’s game will be playing:

IPL Trailblazers: Smirti Mandhana (c) Alyssa Healy (wk), Suzie Bates, Deepti Sharma, Beth Mooney, Jemima Rodrigues, Danielle Hazell, Shikha Pandey, Lea Tahuhu, Jhulan Goswami, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Dayalan Hemalatha.

IPL Supernovas: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Danielle Wyatt, Mithali Raj, Meg Lanning, Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Pooja Vastrakar, Megan Schutt, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Anjuja Patil.

Wow – should be quite an event and I hope it gets the crowd and the coverage it deserves.

Tennis – Off the Court

Alize Cornet was facing a ban for missing three drugs tests in a year, but an independent tribunal has found that the doping control officer did not take “reasonable steps” to locate her for the third test.

The first test (3 November 2016) was missed as she left early for a flight to a competition, the second (26 July 2017) because again she had already set off for competition in the United States.

At the time of the third attempt (24 October 2017), Cornet says she was in her apartment but her intercom was broken.  She did not receive a phone call or any other attempt to contact her to conduct the test.

The tribunal accepted this as “frank and compelling” evidence.  Cornet also had two completed tests in that time, in March and October 2017.

Tennis – On the Court

Korea Open

British wheelchair tennis player Lucy Shuker won the Korea Open singles title this week.  She beat her doubles partner, Giulia Capolcci of Italy, in the final, 6-2 3-6 6-3.

As a pairing they also won the doubles title.

Shuker will go into the Japan Open next week, full of confidence.  The Japan event is part of the Super Series which is the next level down from the Grand Slams.

Madrid Open

Petra Kvitova won a tight Madrid Open final, beating Kiki Bertens 6-6 4-6 6-3.  It was an epic final, lasting just under three hours.

Italian Open

Kvitova then pulled out of the Italian Open, taking place this week.   Also missing is Serena Williams, who pulled out of both Madrid and Italy, instead concentrating on a return at the French Open, which begins on 27 May.  Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has said that she “came back too early” after the birth of her first child, but is confident that she will be back, “Serena can achieve anything,” he said in an interview with the WTA website.

Johanna Konta was due to play Kvitova in the first round, but instead took on Magdalena Rybarikova, winning 6-4 6-3.

In the second round she faced Hsieh Su-wei, winning 6-0 6-4, but she fell in the third against current French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko in three sets, 2-6 6-3 6-4.  She started so well and confidently, while Ostapenko could not find her form at all and seemed to be struggling with the conditions.  Konta was 4-1 up after just 17 minutes.  But in the second set the tables were turned and Konta quickly lost the confidence she had shown in the first.  Ostapenko took her chances, taking the match with her first match point in the third set.

We are now at the quarter-final stages:

Angelique Kerber (11) v Elina Svitolina (4)
Maria Sharapova v Jelena Ostapenko (5)
Anett Kontaveit v Caroline Wozniacki (2)
Simona Halep (1) v Caroline Garcia (7)

Meanwhile at the same tournament Karoline Pliskova lost her temper with a vengeance, attacking the umpire’s chair with her racquet after she was beaten by Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

She had a smash called out when serving at 30 all, five games all in the third set.  Television replays showed it to be in, but on clay the reviews are done by physical marks (I’ve never quite understood that) and as there was no mark to be seen, the call stood.

At the end of the match Pliskova repeatedly hit the chair with her racquet frame.  She now, needless to say, faces a fine.

Rugby Union – Canada Sevens

New Zealand retained their Canada Sevens title in Langford on Sunday, defeating Australia in the final, 46-0.

Portia Woodman scored the first try, followed quickly by one for Ruby Tui.  Kelly Brazier scored a third after Australia had conceded a penalty and the Black Ferns took a quick tap.

They still had time to score again before half-time as Woodman went in for a second and it was 22-0 at the break.

It was no better for Australia in the second-half.  Niall Williams went in twice and then captain Sarah Goss barrelled over for a seventh.

Brazier went in for her second and New Zealand’s eighth to leave Australia stunned and well beaten.

Other Placings

USA claimed bronze with a 21-5 win over France and Canada finished fifth, beating Ireland 29-12.

The Challenge Trophy went to Japan as they beat Spain 26-21.

Pool Results

Pool A: Fiji 24-14 England; New Zealand 51-0 Brazil; Fiji 47-14 Brazil; New Zealand 22-0 England; England 31-17 Brazil; New Zealand 12-7 Fiji

Pool B: Russia 14-35 United States; France 33-7 Japan; Russia 7-24 Japan; France 22-19 United States; United States 28-7 Japan; France 45-0 Russia

Pool C: Spain 0-7 Ireland; Australia 22-7 Canada; Spain 10-24 Canada; Australia 31-19 Ireland; Ireland 17-19 Canada; Australia 43-10 Spain

England finished seventh, equalling their best place of the series so far, beating Fiji 29-24.

The final round takes place in Paris on 8-10 June, with Wales competing by invitation.

Rugby League

Last weekend’s results were as follows:

Sunday 13 May
Featherstone Rovers 32-40 Castleford Tigers
Bradford Bulls 72-10 York City Knights
Wigan Warriors 16-6 St Helens

Castleford Tigers lead the table with seven points from four games.  St Helens lie second with six points from four games.  Leeds Rhinos are also on six points, but from three games – they are third on points difference.  York City and Featherstone are yet to take a point.

Netball

Round 12 of the Netball Super League was last weekend.  The results were:

Saturday 12 May
UWS Sirens 45-59 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 51-56 Team Bath
Team Northumbria 51-58 Manchester Thunder
Severn Stars 55-44 Benecos Mavericks

Monday 14 May
Celtic Dragons 38-66 Loughborough Lightning

This weekend’s Round 13 fixtures:

Friday 18 May
UWS Sirens v Loughborough Lightning (7pm)
Surrey Storm v Wasps Netball (7.45pm)

Saturday 19 May
Benecos Mavericks v Celtic Dragons (3pm)
Manchester Thunder v Severn Stars (5pm)

Monday 21 May
Team Bath v Team Northumbria (7pm – Live on Sky Sports)

Sports Administration – Sport England

Jennie Price will quit her position as Chief Executive of Sport England at the end of October.

She took over in 2007 in the heat of London’s 2012 Olympic bid.  Since she has been in post, the number of people playing sport regularly has gone up by 1.6 million.

Price was also instrumental in the formation of the This Girl Can campaign.   She was awarded a CBE in 2017 for services to sport.

And finally,

Use it, shout it, talk about it #Whatif is trending.  So what is #What if?

It’s the new campaign launched by the organisation Women in Football, at Twitter HQ in London on Wednesday.

It is aimed at everyone; football professionals, businesses and members of the public who are encouraged to pledge one way they could take action to contribute to helping improve things for women and girls in football.

There are already some high-profile names involved and the pledges already received should make a difference.  These include:

Sky Sports – #WhatIf Sky Sports committed to including female talent as studio pundits on Gillette Soccer Specials from the 2018/19 season onwards 

SPORF – #WhatIf @SPORF amplified the reach of women’s football by fully integrating coverage of the women’s game on online communities

Twitter – #WhatIf Women in Football had its own emojil on Twitter

Betfair – #WhatIf Betfair ring-fenced 50 per cent of their Cash4Clubs grassroots grants for women’s teams to help support their growth and sustainability

Forza Football – #WhatIf Forza Football made live score updates and results for women’s football games easily accessible across the world

Anyone can make a pledge, be it large or small, as an individual or corporately.  Check out the story: https://www.womeninfootball.co.uk/news/2018/05/16/whatif-we-changed-the-landscape-of-football-forever/

Or contact Leanne Dingle via leanne@womeninfootball.co.uk for more information.

There is a great will to improve the lot of women in all aspects of football.  Although I constantly despair at the comments made by those who obviously have nothing better to do, I do believe that women’s football is a good and improving product, worthy of investment by individuals and companies alike.  Let’s get behind this campaign – make your own pledge and keep #Whatif trending.

From my own point of view, I do what I can but #Whatif I can do more?  #What if I pledge to tweet more, cover more in depth and promote women’s football wherever I can.  Let’s do it.   

And, and finally,

Congratulations to Chelsea Manager, Emma Hayes, who this week gave birth to a baby boy.  Not content with a championship and FA Cup double, she is now a Mum!  Talk about multi-tasking…..

Sorry to be flaky, but there will be no column again next week, but I’ll be back in a fortnight with more news and views. 

Women’s Sports Column 18-24 November 2017

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  After last week’s monster offering, hopefully this one will be a bit more manageable – but there is so much being contributed by women in the world of sport that I have to get it out there – both my pleasure and my duty!

Stories this week come from tennis, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, speed skating, football, weightlifting and hockey.

Let’s crack on…

Tennis

Sadly, only one place to start this week and that’s with the sad news of the death of former Wimbledon champion, Jana Novotna at the age of 49.

One of the saddest, but most heartwarming sporting moments I can remember is watching the Duchess of Kent consoling Novotna after she had just the Wimbledon final to Steffi Graf in 1993.

And didn’t we all cheer and cry with her in 1998 when she finally got her Wimbledon win against Nathalie Tauziat?

She was certainly an accomplished tennis player, particularly in doubles, where she won 12 grand slam titles and four mixed doubles titles.

In later years she became a knowledgeable and likeable expert voice in the commentary box.

Johanna Konta

Rumour has it that Michael Joyce is set to become British number one, Johanna Konta’s next coach.  Joyce had previously worked with Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka.

Hockey

Apologies to all you hockey fans out there as I completely missed the Women’s Hockey World League Finals starting last week in New Zealand.  So here’s what happened to England over the course of the tournament.

It was a mixed event for England, but somehow they still managed to get through to the semi-final.

They were drawn in Pool B against Germany, Argentina and China.

They lost their opening match to Germany 2-0.  Germany’s goals came from two penalty corners scored by Charlotte Stapenhorst just after the half-hour, with Nike Lorenz grabbing the second.  England had a goal from Lily Owsley disallowed for dangerous play.

Things went no better in their second pool match as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Argentina.  Delfina Merino scored the winning goal in the 56th minute.

But things improved for England in their third pool game as they beat China 4-1.  Alex Danson scored the first and Sophie Bray the second to make it 2-0 at half-time.  Hannah Martin and Sarah Haycroft were also on the score sheet, while Mengling Zhong scored China’s solitary goal.

Somewhat fortunately this meant that England, in finishing third in their pool, managed to avoid the Netherlands in the quarter-final.  Instead they played the USA.

Quarter-final
England 2-1 USA

Sophie Bray scored twice to take England through to a meeting with the hosts in the semis.

Alyssa Parker scored in the fourth quarter to give the USA hope, but in the end there was no way back.

Semi-final
England 0-1 New Zealand

New Zealand qualified even after losing all three pool matches.  They beat Argentina 2-1 in the quarter-final.

It was a good, end-to end match, with both sides earning chances.   Lily Owsley had a second disallowed goal of the tournament, while Sophie Bray hit the bar.

But in the end it was New Zealand who were more clinical.  With just five minutes to go Olivia Merry scored from a penalty corner to take the win.  They now play Netherlands or South Korea in the final.

Meanwhile England will play-off for bronze on Sunday 26 November against the loser of the other semi-final.

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

Meanwhile, back in the domestic league, last weekend’s results were as follows:
Bowdon 0-0 Surbiton
Leicester 1-1 Holcombe
University of Birmingham 2-2 Canterbury
Slough 2-2 Clifton Robinsons
Buckingham 1-3 East Grinstead

It was very nearly draws all round as University of Birmingham went to the top of the league on goals scored with 17 points.  Surbiton lie second also on 17, with East Grinstead just one point behind in third.  Canterbury are bottom with six points from nine games, with Bowdon and Leicester just above on eight points.

Football

No news from on the pitch this week as it’s the international break with two World Cup qualifiers for England.  Tonight (Friday 24) they face Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Banks’ Stadium in Walsall.  The game is apparently a sell-out, but if you haven’t got tickets you can watch it live on BBC2 or listen to 5Live Sports Extra at 7pm.

Wales are also in action tonight, playing Kazakhstan at the Cardiff City Stadium.  Kick-off is 7pm and you can follow it live on the BBC red button and the BBC website.

Both sides then play again on Tuesday, with Wales facing the trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, while England are at home again, this time to Kazakhstan.

Champions League Draw

Hot off the press or out of the pot, this is the draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions League.  And wow, there is certainly one standout tie – holders Lyon v Barcelona.  The draw in full:

Quarter-finals: 21/22 & 28/29 March
Montpellier (FRA) v Chelsea (ENG)
Wolfsburg (GER) v Slavia Praha (CZE)
Manchester City (ENG) v Linköping (SWE)
Lyon (FRA) v Barcelona (ESP)

The semi-final draw was also made:

Semi-finals: 21/22 & 28/29 April
Montpellier/Chelsea v Wolfsburg/Slavia Praha
Manchester City/Linköping v Lyon/Barcelona

Jodie Taylor

England striker Jodie Taylor is to leave Arsenal, firstly to play in the Australian W-League with Melbourne City and then to go on to join Seattle Reign.

She is no stranger to playing abroad, having already had spells in the USA, Australia and Sweden.

It is sad that she seems to be itching to get away.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“After two seasons I was ready to get back abroad.

“I think I’m better suited in a league like America and the lifestyle as well away from football.”

 Jonna Andersson

Chelsea are to sign Swedish international defender Jonna Andersson from Linköping.

She will join the West London club when the transfer window opens on 29 December.

Andersson had been with Linköping for nine years, winning three league titles and three Swedish Cups in that time.  

Denmark Women

UEFA has handed Denmark women’s side a four-year suspended ban from UEFA competition matches “for which it would otherwise qualify” after their refusal to play a World Cup qualifier against Sweden.

Denmark are still in dispute with their governing body.

UEFA also issued a fine of £17,871.

Sweden were awarded the win by a margin of 3-0.

This one isn’t over yet.

Rugby League

England are through to the World Cup semi-final even though they were beaten 22-16 by the Cook Islands in their final group game.  Do not ask me to explain the format of this tournament, but I’m sure the game’s governing body is rubbing its hands at the sheer labyrinthine deviousness of it all.

After winning their first match against PNG, they were well beaten by Australia in their second, 38-0.  Australia’s points came through tries from Ward (2), Kelly, Davis-Welsh, Baker, Walton, Apps and Moran.  Baker (2) and Moran chipped in with the goals.

England suffered a surprise loss to the Cook Islands in their third game.  England’s 16 points came through tries from Slowe, Hardcastle and Bulman with two goals from Garner, while the Cook Islands scored four tries through Koiatu, Arona, Strickland and Ngata-Aerengamate, while their three goals came from Schofield.

It was only due to the fact that the Cook Islands suffered heavy defeats at the hands of both Australia and New Zealand, that England went through from Pool A on points difference.

To be honest, as with the men’s, I think we can probably hand the trophy to the Australians now.  The Jillaroos are through to the semis undefeated with their last third pool game an 88-0 thrashing of Canada.   They face them again in the semi-final!

Semi-final draw Sunday 26 November

Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney
New Zealand v England
Australia v Canada

The final is on 2 December in Brisbane as part of double-header with the men’s final.

Rugby Union

Off the pitch

Big, big, big news this week from World Rugby.  This is the headline on their website:

“Accelerating the global development of women in rugby 2017-25

OUR AMBITION: By 2025, rugby will be a global leader in sport, where women involved in rugby have equity on and off the field, are reflected in all strategy, plans and structures, making highly valued contributions to participation, performance, leadership and investment in the global game of rugby.”

We’ve all heard the words before.  And words are usually all they are.  Many governing bodies talk a good game when it comes to women’s sport (I may have said this before), but this statement and strategy document is something else entirely.

And it’s not just on the field that the differences will be made.  The World Rugby Council will expand its membership from 32 to 49 next year.  The 17 new members will be women.

On the pitch they want to see one million women and girls registered to play by 2025.  Check this out.  I don’t often say this but it’s a game-changer – it’s also concise and to the point (another point in its favour):

https://www.worldrugby.org/womens-rugby/development-plan

Old Mutual Wealth Series

England have comfortably won the Test series against Canada.  They lead 2-0 with one match to play.  The first was an absolute exhibition by England, with Canada improving in the second.

First Test
England 79-5 Canada

Jess Breach scored six tries on her debut as England thrashed Canada in the first Test at Allianz Park.

Other tries came from Rachael Burford, Abigail Dow (2), Amy Cockayne, Marlie Packer, Rocky Clark and Ellie Kildunne.  Amber Reed kicked five conversions and Zoe Harrison kicked two.

Canada’s five came from a try by Cindy Nelles in the second-half.

Second Test
England 49-12 Canada

Although Canada were not able to put a score on the board until the 74th minute, it was a much improved performance from the visitors that saw them score tries through Janna Slevinsky and McKinley Hunt, while Brianna Miller put over one conversion.

England’s try count stood at eight; Heather Kerr, Rachael Burford (2), Ellie Kildunne (2), Danielle Waterman, Hannah Botterman and Jo Brown all went over the whitewash, while Amber Reed kicked two conversions and a penalty and Zoe Harrison one conversion.

Captain Sarah Hunter also won her 100th cap.

There is one game to play in the series on Saturday 25 November

Speed Skating

Elise Christie came away from Seoul with a gold medal last week as she took the 500m title, in a time of 43.27 seconds. Choi Min-jeong of South Korea was second with Canada’s Marianne St-Gelais finishing third.

Cricket

England’s women came back to draw the Ashes series 8-8 in Australia last week.  But, in truth, this will not compensate for seeing the trophy remain with Australia.  Fine performances in the final two T20s will encourage Mark Robinson and the management team, but on balance, they didn’t do enough to earn the series victory.

Second T20
England 152/6 (20 overs)
Australia 112 all out (18 overs)

Katherine Brunt finally made a contribution to this Ashes with a player of the match performance, making 32 not out and taking 2/10 from her four overs.

Knight won the toss and decided to bat.  Beaumont went cheaply, but Wyatt showed the way with 19 before she was caught by Haynes off the bowling of Schutt.

Taylor was run out for a useful 30 and then Sciver and Brunt took it on.  Sciver scored 40 before she was caught by Haynes off Perry.  It was then up to Brunt to anchor the innings and England posted a useful total of 152.

The Australian reply started well and they had made 45 before the first wicket fell.  Mooney was run out for 17 and Villani soon followed after scoring just one.  From then on wickets fell regularly as the home side found it difficult to put together a meaningful partnership.

Jenny Gunn starred again with the ball, taking 4/13 in three overs, but it was Brunt’s all round performance that swung the day as England won by a massive 40 runs.

Third T20
Australia 178/2 (20 overs)
England 181/6 (19 overs)

England left it until the last game to show the crowd and watching audience what they really can do.  But it was up to the batters to do the job.

Australia posted a massive 178/2 with Mooney finishing on 112 not out from 70 balls, scoring 19 fours and a six in the process – the first woman to score a T20 century in Australia, and only the fifth in all.  She was supported ably by Healy (19), Villani (16) and Perry (22).

It looked like a winning score and England would have to complete the highest T20 run chase by a women’s team to win.   They got off to a stuttering start with Beaumont and Taylor dismissed early on.  But Wyatt has been a revelation in these T20s and she took on the challenge with a vengeance.

She scored 100 from 57 balls, including 13 fours and two sixes – the second century of the match.  She was backed by Knight, who scored 51.  By the time Wyatt was dismissed England needed only eight runs to win off 11 balls.  They lost a couple of quick wickets, which kept us all on the edge of our seats, but Fran Wilson hit the winning runs with a cheeky four scooped over Healy behind the stumps.

Brave, bold and exciting stuff from England, but all too late to save the Ashes.

Weightlifting

A quick note of an important piece of news pertaining to women’s weightlifting.

As we know, barriers to women’s sport in the Muslim world are more stringent and profound than most, but recently women’s sport has begun to make great strides.  The latest of these is in weightlifting.

From next year, Iran and Saudi Arabia will allow their women to compete internationally for the first time.

Women have competed at the World Championships since 1987.  Several Islamic countries have never taken part including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Somalia and Libya.

What the first competition featuring Saudi women will be is unclear, but the first for Iranian women, may be a friendly tournament against the United States in February or March 2018.

There will be no column next week as I’m out and about, but I’ll be back the following week with more news and views.

Women’s Sports Column 4-10 November 2017

laura 1Welcome to this week’s column.  I’m back!  I hope you’ve all managed to satisfy your women’s sports craving somehow while I was away. I can’t begin to cover all that’s happened in those two weeks, but this week has been full to bursting with news; some good, some bad and some just downright baffling.

This week’s stories come from football, rugby, golf, hockey, winter sports, athletics and cricket.  My “And finally” comes from tennis – yep you can probably guess the one.

So let’s crack on.

Football

Off the Pitch

What on earth is happening to football?  Is the FA determined to scupper its progress?  And there has, undoubtedly, been progress.  I know this is a well-worn hobby horse of mine, but it seems that every time I look away, when I turn back another nail has been bashed into the women’s football coffin.

The 99th restructuring of the women’s game is the story of the week making the headlines and dividing lovers of women’s football throughout the country.

Firstly this week we heard that Watford, who play in WSL2, will not reapply for as WSL licence when their current one expires at the end of the 2017-18 season.

I think it’s worth reproducing the club’s statement in full:

“Watford FC will be seeking to re-energise a more community-focused approach to its ladies’ football offering at all ages, once its FA Women’s Super League licence expires at the end of the current 2017/18 campaign.

Over recent months, the Hornets have carefully considered all available options with regards to how it shapes a fully sustainable future provision of ladies football.

The club will continue to fund all aspects of the operational infrastructure at existing levels and is pleased to have already begun the research and planning phase.

This involves creating a clear pathway towards adult football provision, which will include an offering for 16-18 year-old players who are currently all-too-often lost to the sport through lack of realistic opportunities in the senior game.

This move will include an application to The Football Association for election of the senior team into the regional Women’s Premier League structure.

Watford FC will continue to work closely with its Community Sports & Education Trust to ensure all possible routes into football for enthusiastic local players are both maintained and enhanced.

There will also be the chance for both affiliated and independently-run organisations to partner with Watford FC with a view to extending the reach and breadth of the positive impact of this approach.

The stability the current Watford FC Ladies operation enjoys means that supporters can expect a vibrant and active community-led offering from summer 2018 onwards.”

This statement has sparked furious debate – on one side some say it is the club being pragmatic, still showing commitment to the game but realising its limitations at this time.  On the other side (and, you will probably not be surprised to read that I adhere to this) there are those who see it as a complete abdication of responsibility and a shocking lack of ambition.  If, as the statement says, “The club will continue to fund all aspects of the operational infrastructure at existing levels”, why are they not going to apply for a licence?  The infrastructure is in place for WSL2, so there is no extra input needed?  What exactly does “community-led” mean?  Is it a euphemism for “run by volunteers”?  Obviously all sport relies on the strength of its volunteers, very often even to make it viable, but you cannot run a club in the second tier of football with volunteers.

Wales international striker, Helen Ward, was a high profile signing for the Hornets.  She obviously saw the ambition in the club when she signed.  On 7 November she tweeted, “280 characters still isn’t enough to say what I want to say right now…so it’s best I don’t say anything at all.”

In a similar vein, yesterday Sunderland AFC also issued a statement:

“Sunderland AFC has today confirmed that the club will not be applying for an FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) Licence in the first wave of applications. Instead, the club will focus on a joint bid for a Tier One licence in March.

Applications are currently open to existing FA WSL clubs, but due to the collaborative nature of Sunderland’s intended bid it would not be appropriate for the club to apply at this stage.

A club spokesperson said: ‘Sunderland AFC are committed to supporting women’s football and a joint approach, with combined resources, makes for a better and more sustainable model.

‘We have been working with our partners to ensure that we continue to provide the opportunity for elite female footballers in the North East to compete at the top level.’”

So that’s one WSL1 and one WSL2 effectively saying they’re not buying into the restructure.

And then you have Yeovil, desperate to be involved with the WSL but destined to be denied because they can’t raise the arbitrary £350k figure needed to qualify to apply for a licence.  But is it really because they’re not “fashionable”, or that they’re not affiliated to a men’s club (and we all know how well that worked for Notts County, don’t we)?   I ask you to read the Yeovil Chairman’s view: http://www.yeoviltownladies.com/news/views_from_our_chairman.html#IumCMSUCX7IFsW48.97

If you have any love for the women’s game I would also urge you to check out the Facebook Group, “FAWSL Fans United”

Something’s got to give here – let’s hope it’s not the whole future of women’s football in this country.

Right, now I’ve thoroughly depressed everyone, let’s carry on with what else has been happening in football this week.

Laura Harvey

Seattle Reign head coach, Laura Harvey, has resigned, re-igniting speculation that she is to take over as England Manager.

Harvey, who comes from Nuneaton in Warwickshire, has not indicated what her next move will be saying she will “take a little bit of time to reflect”.

She was boss at Seattle for five years, winning two NWSL Shields.  Her successor will be Vlatko Andonovski and Harvey will stay on for a period to see him settle in.

Joe Montemurro

Australian coach Joe Montemurro has been named as new Arsenal manager, after Pedro Martinez resigned in October.

He was manager at Melbourne City Women, winning two titles during his time there.

Manchester City

Nikita Parris has signed a new contract with Manchester City which runs until the end of the 2018-19 season.

They have also signed Swedish international forward, Julia Spetsmark, from KIF Örebro DFF.  She will be available to play in January 2018.

Jade Moore

Reading midfielder Jade Moore suffered a serious ankle injury during her side’s 5-0 win at Bristol City on Saturday.

She could be out for four months and requires surgery.

On the Pitch

Continental Cup Results:

4 November
Bristol City Women 1-2 Chelsea Ladies

5 November
Durham Women 0-0 Liverpool Ladies
Arsenal 1-2 Reading Women
Aston Villa Ladies 2-2 Sheffield FC Ladies
Birmingham City Ladies 3-2 Doncaster Rovers Belles
London Bees 3-4 Millwall Lionesses
Tottenham Hotspur Ladies 1-4 Brighton & Hove Albion
Manchester City Women 2-1 Everton Ladies

Champions League

This week saw the first leg ties of the last 16.  There were big wins for some of the tournament favourites, effectively sealing the ties before the second leg is played.  Both English teams had fine wins and the second legs are next week.  The scores were as follows:

8 November
BIIK-Kazygurt 0-7 Lyon
Gintra 0-6 Barcelona
Fiorentina 0-4 Wolfsburg
Brescia 2-3 Montpellier
Sparta Praha 1-1 Linköping

Chelsea 3-0 Rosengård

Chelsea’s excellent home form continued on Wednesday.  They dominated a useful Rosengård side and now should be through to the quarter-finals.  Fran Kirby scored the only goal of the first half.  In the second, Ramona Bachmann scored the second and Gilly Flaherty pounced on an error by former England international Anita Asante, to put away the third.

9 November
LSK 0-5 Manchester City

Manchester City are effectively into the quarter-finals with a good away win at LSK of Norway.  If I tell you City had 22 attempts at goal, to the home side’s three, you’ll probably understand the course of the match.

City took the lead on 26 minutes through Demi Stokes.  They doubled their lead just before half-time when Jane Ross was brought down in the box and Izzy Christiansen converted from the spot.

There was more of the same in the second period.  Claire Emslie scored City’s third on 69, while Jane Ross bagged a brace in the space of five minutes to complete the rout.

Stjarnan 1-2 Slavia Praha

Cricket

It’s pretty much make or break time for England’s cricketers as they take on Australia in the sole Test match of the Women’s Ashes.  After the three ODIs Australia lead 4-2.  With four points riding on the result of this Test match England really need to win.

After two days at the North Sydney Oval it’s fairly even.  Heather Knight won the toss and elected to bat.

England 280 all out

Tammy Beaumont top-scored with 70, while captain Heather Knight chipped in with 62.  Plenty of others got starts – Elwiss 27, Taylor 29 and Shrubsole 20, but no-one could make the bit score that could take a big total to an excellent one.

Australia 177/5 (stumps day 2)

In response Australia started well with Nicole Bolton and Beth Mooney falling in the twenties.  But it’s the best all-rounder in the world, Ellyse Perry, who is holding England up and is currently on 70 not out.  England will have to get her out, and quickly, on the third morning.

Golf

Park Sung-hyun of Korea has become the first LPGA Tour rookie to go to number one in the world rankings.

Park won two titles in the summer – the US Women’s Open in July and the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

She has finished in the top-10 nine times this year and has not missed a cut in 29 tournaments.

Athletics

Kenyan marathon runner, Jemima Sumgong has been banned for four years after having tested positive for EPO.

The Olympic marathon winner claimed she had been given the drug in hospital after suffering an ectopic pregnancy.  The claim was rejected by a Kenyan court who said that the paperwork offered in her defence has been supplied by “an imposter” and that her claim was “not authentic”.

Sumgong had admitted her “unfortunate offence and unintended mistake” when she was initially suspended in April, but the court found her uncooperative during the investigation.

There is still some mystery surrounding the exact circumstances of the administering of the substance, but the ban means she will unable to compete in Tokyo in 2020.

New York Marathon

Shalane Flanagan won the New York Marathon at the weekend – the first American woman to do so for 40 years.

She won in a time of two hours 26 minutes 53 seconds.

Mary Keitany of Kenya was second, 61 seconds behind the winner.

Manuela Schar of Switzerland won the women’s wheelchair race, beating five-time champion Tatyana McFadden into second.  She finished in a time of one hour 48 minutes nine seconds, almost three minutes ahead of McFadden.

Cycling

Jess Varnish will sue both UK Sport and British Cycling over the sex discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal she allegedly suffered at their hands in 2016.

Apparently UK Sport had applied to have her case dismissed, but on Monday a judge rejected the application and now Varnish can go to an employment tribunal.

A preliminary hearing will begin in April.  Expect this one to run and run.

Winter Sports

The Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup is underway in Lake Placid, USA.

Lizzy Yarnold won a bronze medal in the first race of the new Skeleton season.  She moved from fifth after the first run, to third after the second.  The winner was Janine Flock of Austria.

Fellow Briton Laura Deas finished fifth.

In the bobsleigh, Mica McNeill and Mica Moore, who you will remember had their funding cut and started a crowdfunding campaign to fund their bid to race at the Olympics in 2018, finished eighth in both of their runs to finish eighth overall.  Kaillie Humphries and Melissa Lotholz of Canada took gold.

Rugby Union

Joy Neville will become the first woman to referee a European men’s professional club fixture in December.

She takes charge of the Bordeaux-Begles v Enisei-STM match in the Challenge Cup on Friday 15 December.

She has been making marked progression in the game and refereed the Women’s World Cup final in August.

Last weekend’s Women’s Premier 15s scores were as follows:

4 November
Saracens Women 29-12 Bristol Ladies
Loughborough Lightning 27-15 Richmond Women
Wasps Ladies 31-3 Firwood Waterloo Ladies
DMP Sharks 39-5 Worcester Valkyries
Harlequins Ladies 39-12 Gloucester-Hartpury Women

After seven matches Harlequins are now top with 35 points, that’s seven bonus point wins.  Saracens are a point behind.  Wasps lie third, but the gap to second is 11 point.  At the bottom Worcester Valkyries are yet to claim a point, Firwood Waterloo are second from bottom on four points with the Sharks just above them on 13.

The eighth round is this weekend.  Get y ourselves out there to see some live action if you can.  It’s such a competitive league:

11 November
Richmond Women v Harlequins Ladies (2pm Richmond Athletic Ground)
Saracens Women v DMP Sharks (2pm Allianz Park)
Worcester Valkyries v Wasps Ladies (TBC Sixways Stadium)
Gloucester-Hartpury Women v Firwood Waterloo Ladies (TBC)
Bristol Ladies v Loughborough Lightning (7pm Portway Rugby Development Centre)

Hockey
Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

The results from last weekend were as follows:

4 November
Canterbury 1-1 Holcombe
Leicester 1-2 Bowdon
East Grinstead 0-2 Surbiton
Slough 0-1 University of Birmingham
Buckingham 3-2 Clifton Robinsons

After seven games Surbiton are still top with 16 points.  University of Birmingham are second with 13 with Buckingham third on 12.  Canterbury are bottom with just two points with Bowdon just above them on 7.

And finally,

It’s tennis in 2017 – is it?  Really?

Not technically a women’s sport story, but one that resonates with us all.  At the Next Gen ATP Finals draw in Milan, female models revealed the letters of the groups under their clothing, had to hang on the arm of the participants and other generally degrading stuff under the guise of “entertainment”.

When it was pointed out to the organisers that it probably wasn’t in the best of taste, they first suggested that they were just trying to refer to Milan’s place in the fashion world, but on further consideration (and a lot of bad press) a joint statement from sponsors Red Bull and the ATP said “Our execution was in poor taste and unacceptable.”

D’ya think?

Women’s Sports Column 7-13 October 2017

camerawomanWelcome to this week’s column.  After last week’s short, but perfectly formed column, this week promises to be another bumper effort!  Good grief, women, what are you doing playing/officiating in/running/campaigning about all this sport?  Whatever next?  In fact there’s so much to put in I’m going to have to leave it to you to find this weekend’s fixtures for the various sports leagues.  No room!!

Anyway, on to the news.  Stories this week come from cricket, rugby union, rugby league, football, netball, gymnastics, hockey and tennis.  Plus, a tiny rant from me for this week’s “And finally”.

Let’s crack on.

Netball

It was a clean sweep for England as they retained their Netball Europe Open Championships title at the weekend.  They were the clear favourites to take the title and put together a fine series of wins to remain unbeaten by the end of the tournament.

Results:
5 October
Fiji 34-52 Scotland
Wales 46-47 Northern Ireland

6 October
England 61-48 Scotland
Fiji 40-61 Wales
England 75-44 Northern Ireland

7 October
Fiji 46-58 Northern Ireland
Wales 49-58 Scotland
England 94-31 Fiji

8 October
Scotland 45-46 Northern Ireland
England 72-50 Wales

Final Standings:

P W D L PTS
England 4 4 0 0 8
Northern Ireland 4 3 0 1 6
Scotland 4 2 0 2 4
Wales 4 1 0 3 2
Fiji 4 0 0 4 0

Football

Off the pitch

Eventually….

Manchester City have apparently asked to talk to the FA about the response of the officials and services available after Pauline Bremer broke her leg in the game against Everton on Saturday.

According to Sportsmail City are unhappy at the lack of emergency services available at the game.  The ambulance apparently did not arrive for an hour and her teammates had to carry her off on a stretcher.

Both clubs had medics available, but there were no emergency services and there is no FA requirement for them to be even at top flight women’s games, whereas they must be available at all men’s professional games.

So, hey ho FA, here we go again.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s all a part of their half-brained thinking.  Last week it was the announcement of a fully professional first tier of women’s football; this week it’s revealed there’s not even an ambulance present at current matches.  Just who is putting these schemes and ideas together?  Are they even aware of the present situation?  Before we move on to the next big thing, can we get the present middle-sized thing right first, please?

Yeovil

Yeovil Town Ladies announced this week that they were going to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise the £350,000 necessary to put in a bid to be part of the new fully-professional top tier.

As reported a couple of weeks ago, the deadline to apply is 10 November.

The club has said,

“We have the structure, facilities and ambition to become a full-time professional club given time, but we currently do not have the financial support to do this.

“We do not have the budget to allow our players and coaches to become full-time athletes, unless further investment comes our way soon.”

And while you can applaud the club’s ambition and appreciate that it is currently where it is on merit, you have to wonder about the wisdom of building a long-term future on a crowdfunding campaign.  If they don’t have the investment now, is a one-off injection of £350,000 make the club any more sustainable?

I’m hoping they’ve done the sums and I apologise if I am wrongly doubtful. It’s a great club that has come so far and deserves a shot.

Here’s the link to the campaign should you wish to contribute:

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/turning-professional-in-the-top-tier-of-the-fawsl

And it’s not just in this country that women’s football is sadly underestimated and treated with contempt:

Brazil

A number of former Brazilian women internationals have sent an open letter to their federation to protest at some of their recent actions.

And although they attack some specific issues, such as the sacking of head coach Emily Lima, their key complaint is one heard again and again throughout women’s sport –

“We, and almost all other Brazilian women, are excluded from the leadership and decision-making for our own team and our own sport”.

Lima’s sacking led to five members of the current Brazilian squad to retire from international football; Cristiane, Francielle, Rosana, Andreia Rosa and Maurine have all given up on their international careers.

But it’s the set-up and governance of the women’s game that is the main focus of the protest.  FIFA has guidelines in place that say women must be included at all levels of governance of the game.  But the Brazilian Football Association (CBF) does not follow these guidelines – indeed there are no women on its governing board.

Can we expect FIFA to intervene?  Impose sanctions?  I suspect not.  But both the CBF and FIFA will have to respond in some way.  And when they do, I’ll be covering it.

England

Mo Marley has named her first squad as interim England Manager.  A squad of 24 has been named for the friendly against France, which takes place on Friday 20 November at the Stade du Hainaut.

The match will be shown live on the BBC red button – friendlies on the TV, whatever next?

Goalkeepers: Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Mary Earps (Reading), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

Defenders: Gemma Bonner (Liverpool), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Jess Carter (Birmingham City), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Casey Stoney (Liverpool) 

Midfielders: Izzy Christiansen (Manchester City), Jade Moore (Reading), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jo Potter (Reading), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Reading)

Forwards: Karen Carney (Chelsea), Dan Carter (Arsenal), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Melissa Lawley (Manchester City), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Arsenal)

Norway – Good News!

And some good news to round off the “off the pitch” section.

The Norwegian Football Association announced this week that it is to pay the same to both male and female internationals.

Head of the Norwegian Players’ union, Joachim Walltin, said,

“Norway is a country where equal standing is very important for us, so it is good for the country and for the sport.

“For the girls, it will certainly make a difference. Some of them are working and studying, as well as playing football, and it’s hard to improve then.

“The feeling of being really respected is very important for them. The federation can see it as an investment to increase the level of the women’s team.”

And so say all of us.  Norway is taking the lead here – it would be good to see others follow suit.

On the Pitch

It’s been a busy week with WSL, Continental Cup and Champions League action all taking place.  After this week’s results we’re now down to the last 16 in the Champions League and it’s good to report that both English clubs went through, but Glasgow City went out on the away goals rule.  

Bayern Munich 2-2 Chelsea
Chelsea win 3-2 on aggregate

This was a fine result for Chelsea after being only one up after the home leg.  It was tight all the way through, but when Fran Kirby stuck away an excellent goal on 60 minutes, thereby securing an away goal, the task seemed much easier.

Bayern needed three in 30 minutes and were stung into action.  They pulled one back after sustained pressure as substitute Gemma Davison deflected the ball into her own net and then Lucie Vonkova pounced on some poor goalkeeping from Lindahl to poke home from close range.

Chelsea resisted wave after wave of attack, much as they did in the first leg.  The home side had a good shout for a penalty when the ball seemed to strike Millie Bright’s arm, but the referee waved it away.

Bayern did put the ball in the net in injury time, but it was disallowed for a push in the box and Chelsea held on for the win.

The Bayern staff and manager were not happy with what they perceived as Chelsea time-wasting as player after player went down.  And while there certainly was an element of this, the players had also played themselves into the ground and were genuinely feeling the effects.  Several times Chelsea were down to ten and playing on.  Ramona Bachmann appeared to have pretty constant cramp for the last half-hour!

Manchester City 3-0 St Polten
Manchester City win 6-0 on aggregate

It was an altogether easier night for Manchester City as they cruised past Austrian champions St Polten and into the last 16.

With a healthy 3-0 cushion from the away leg, City matched the tally with goals from Nikita Parris, Jill Scott and Mel Lawley.

In truth, it wasn’t a flowing performance from City and a better team would have made them pay.  Jane Ross missed a penalty in the first-half and was then anonymous for the rest of the game.  The defence, still adapting after losing Lucy Bronze to Lyon, looked creaky at times.  But they’re through and will, no doubt, take confidence from the tie to go on into the last 16.

Glasgow City 4-1 BIIK Kazygurt
4-4 on aggregate, but BIIK Kazygurt go through on the away goal

It was heartbreak for Glasgow City as they so nearly came back from a 3-0 away deficit to complete a miraculous win.

Their task was made so much harder as BIIK took an early lead through Chinwendu Ihezuo and the home side needed five.

Abbi Grant scored a hat-trick and Noelle Murray one to bring the sides level on aggregate.

Then Glasgow were awarded a penalty with eight minutes to go and the chance to win the tie.  But Leanne Ross hit the post and the chance was lost.

City had further chances to score but the ball refused to go in the net and Glasgow had gone out at the round of 32 stage for the third year running.

Round of 16

There are eight seeded teams and eight unseeded in the last 16 and the good news for Manchester City is that they have snuck into the seeded pot.  Chelsea are not so lucky:

Seeded
Lyon (FRA, holders)
Wolfsburg (GER)
FC Rosengård (SWE)
Barcelona (ESP)
Manchester City (ENG)
Brescia (ITA)
Slavia Praha (CZE)
Sparta Praha (CZE)

Unseeded
Linköping (SWE)
Chelsea (ENG)
Montpellier (FRA)
LSK Kvinner (NOR
BIIK-Kazygurt (KAZ)
Gintra Universitetas (LTU)
Stjarnan (ISL)
Fiorentina (ITA)

The draw will be made on Monday 16 October with everyone wanting to avoid Lyon and Wolfsburg!

FAWSL1

7 October
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
Everton 2-3 Manchester City

8 October
Arsenal 1-1 Bristol City
Reading 2-2 Birmingham City
Yeovil Town 0-1 Sunderland

Chelsea are top on goal difference with three wins from three.  Manchester City are equal on points, but five behind on goal difference.  Sunderland are third on six points.  Neither Everton nor Yeovil have yet taken a point, with the Lady Glovers bottom with a worse goal difference.

FAWSL2

8 October
Durham 4-0 Watford
London Bees 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Millwall Lionesses 4-3 Brighton & Hove Albion
Sheffield FC 2-1 Aston Villa
Oxford United 2-2 Doncaster Rovers Belles

Millwall are top of division two on goals scored.  Both they and Oxford United are on seven points from three games.  They have the same goal difference, but Millwall have scored three more goals.  Durham are third on six points.  Aston Villa, London Bees and Watford are still to register a point with Watford bottom of the pile on goal difference.

Continental Cup

The Cup begins in a group stage this year with four groups, the top two from each going through to the knockout stage.

The Groups are Groups One and Two (North) and Groups One and Two (South).  If games end in a draw at 90 minutes, they go straight to penalties.

Group 1 (N)
Liverpool 6-0 Sheffield FC
Durham 0-0 Sunderland (Sunderland won 3-2 on penalties)

Group 2 (N)
Birmingham City 4-0 Oxford United
Doncaster Rovers Belles 0-3 Everton

Group 1 (S)
Arsenal 7-0 London Bees
Watford 1-0 Millwall Lionesses

Group 2 (S)
Brighton & Hove Albion 4-2 Yeovil Town
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Bristol City

Gymnastics

Claudia Fragapane claimed bronze in the floor at the World Gymnastics Championships in Montreal at the weekend.

Japan’s Mai Murakami took gold with a score of 14,233, Jade Carey of the USA, silver, 14,2 with Fragapane coming in with 13.933.

Amy Tinkler finished 17th in the all round final with a total of 50.899.  It was quite an achievement as she was taking part just seven weeks after ankle surgery.  Morgan Hurd of the USA took gold with 55.232, with Ellie Black of Canada in silver position and Elena Eremina of Russia taking bronze.

Hockey

This week’s Investec Women’s Hockey League results were as follows:

7 October
Buckingham 0-0 Holcombe
Slough 1-0 Canterbury
Bowdon 0-2 East Grinstead
Surbiton 1-0 Leicester

8 October
Clifton Robinsons 1-4 University of Birmingham

This means that with three games gone, Surbiton are still top on goals scored from Slough.  Both are on seven points.  In third lie Holcombe with five.  Canterbury are still bottom with one point.

Rugby League

I realise I have been somewhat remiss in my coverage of women’s rugby league – in fact I’ve just never covered it.  I have no defence.  I love rugby league – in fact the first piece I ever wrote for the Sheffield University newspaper was on Sheffield Eagles.  So, in an attempt to redeem myself, there were two big stories this week.

Grand final
Bradford Bulls 36-6 Featherstone Rovers

Bradford Bulls scored seven tries through seven different players to ensure they won the inaugural Women’s Super League Grand Final at the Manchester Regional Arena on Saturday.

It also ensured a league and cup double for the Bulls who won the Challenge Cup earlier in the season and meant they completed the season with a 100% record.

At half-time it was still all to play for as Bulls led 16-6.  The Bulls began with tries from captain Kirsty Moroney and Lois Forsell.  Georgia Roche scored for Rovers, who then took and scored the conversion. Bulls then scored their third through Charlotte Booth.

But Rovers couldn’t score again in the second-half as the Bulls ran away with it.  Claire Garner, Amy Hardcastle, Charlene Henegan and Haylie Hields all crossed for tries, while Garner put over four conversions.

World Cup Squad

England have named 23 players in the squad to take part in the World Cup in November in Australia.

Amy Hardcastle (Bradford Bulls), Andrea Dobson (Featherstone Rovers), Beth Sutcliffe, Charlotte Booth, Claire Garner (all Bradford Bulls), Danielle Bound (Thatto Heath St Helens), Danika Priim (Bradford Bulls), Emily Rudge (Thatto Heath St Helens), Emma Slowe (Featherstone Rovers), Faye Gaskin, Jenny Welsby (both Thatto Heath St Helens), Jessica Courtman(Bradford Bulls), Jodie Cunningham (Thatto Heath St Helens), Katherine Hepworth (Castleford Tigers), Kayleigh Bulman (Featherstone Rovers), Kirsty Moroney, Lois Forsell (both Bradford Bulls), Rachel Thompson(Thatto Heath St Helens), Rhiannon Marshall, Sarah Dunn (both Featherstone Rovers), Shona Hoyle, Stacey White (both Bradford Bulls), Tara-Jane Stanley (Thatto Heath St Helens).

England’s group fixtures begin against Papua New Guinea Orchids on 16 November.

The tournament final will be before the men’s at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on 2 December.

Group fixtures will be played at the Southern Cross Stadium, Woolooware, NSW.

16 November: Papua New Guinea Orchids (kick-off 09:30 BST)
19 November: Australian Jillaroos (04:45 BST)
22 November: The Cook Islands (04:45 BST)

 Belinda Sleeman

 Meanwhile, the men’s Rugby League World Cup has appointed its first female official.  Australian Belinda Sleeman is one of 24 officials selected.

Needless to say she has already accomplished a series of first – the most recent being the first woman to officiate at a Test Match, when she was a touch judge at the Fiji v Tonga match in May.

Watch out everyone – female officials are on the march at last.  They are progressing as never before in rugby (both codes), football and cricket.  Coming to a match near you!

Rugby Union

 Barbarians Women’s Team

The invitational team, the Barbarians are to introduce a women’s team.

The side’s first game will be against Munster on 10 November at Thomond Park, with further fixtures to be announced in due course.

Giselle Mather will coach the team and Fiona Stockley will manage it.

So far Susie Brown (Scotland), Fiona Coghlan (Ireland), Claire Cripps and Megan Goddard (England), Elen Evans (Wales), Emma Jenson (New Zealand), Christelle Le Duff (France) and Kelly Russell (Canada), have accepted invitations to play.  These eight start with 440 international caps between them.

Tyrell’s Premier 15s

Last weekend’s scores were as follows:

Saracens Women 30-0 Wasps Ladies
Harlequins Ladies 36-10 DMP Sharks
Loughborough Lightning 30-19 Firwood Waterloo Ladies
Bristol Women 28-20 Gloucester-Hartpury Women
Richmond Women 48-12 Worcester Valkyries

Harlequins Ladies are top with four from four and maximum bonus points.  Saracens lie second, a point behind, with Bristol three points further back on 16 after winning three of their first four matches.  At the bottom, Worcester Valkyries remain pointless, with Firwood Waterloo and DMP Sharks on one and two points respectively.

Cricket

Australia have announced their squad for the Ashes, which start on 22 October.  As we know, captain Meg Lanning is out and her place is taken by Rachel Haynes, a decision that has raised some eyebrows as it has been suggested that Haynes has been picked mostly for her captaincy skills rather than her cricketing skills.  We’ll see in just over a week whether this proves to be an inspired decision (or not).

There are six uncapped players in the squad, two of whom are just returning from long-term injury; Lauren Cheatle has been out for six months with a shoulder injury, while Tahlia McGrath has been out for eight months with a stress fracture.

The squads in full:

Test squad: Kristen Beams, Alex Blackwell, Nicole Bolton, Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes (Capt), Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.

ODI squad: Beams, Blackwell, Bolton, Cheatle, Gardner, Haynes, Healy, Jonassen, McGrath, Mooney, Perry, Schutt, Villani, Wellington.

ICC Women’s Championship

The quest to qualify for the 2021 World Cup began this week.  Four teams qualify automatically. The first round of fixtures is between West Indies and Sri Lanka and the first game was played on Wednesday 11 October:

Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba
Sri Lanka 136 all out (49.4 overs)
West Indies 138/4 (39 overs)

It was a comfortable win for the home side in the first game of three on Wednesday.  Yasoda Mendis top scored for Sri Lanka with 34.  Fletcher, Matthews and Taylor took three wickets each.  The only downside for West Indies was Hayley Matthews retiring hurt during the West Indies innings.  Kycia Knight made only one and captain Stafanie Taylor, two, but the middle order all contributed to see the Windies home.

The second game is on Friday 13 October.  Each game is worth two points in the Women’s Championship.

Tennis

On the Court

China Open

Caroline Garcia of France took the China Open title, beating new world number one Simona Halep in the final, 6-4 7-6.  She then pulled out of the Tianjin Open with injury.

Tianjin Open

Of course, at this stage of the season, it’s another week, another tournament.

The quarter-finals of the Tianjin Open have just been decided:

S Peng (3) beat S. Sorribes Tormo 6-0 6-1
M Sharapova beat S. Vögele 6-3 6-1
S Errani beat S McHale 5-7 7-6 6-1
A Sabalenka beat L. Zhu 6-3 6-4.

The semi-finals, which take place on Saturday 14 October, will be Errani v Sabalenka and Sharapova v Peng.

Off the Court

Johanna Konta is still suffering with a foot injury and has been forced to withdraw from the Kremlin Cup, which takes place next week.  It means she will no longer be able to qualify for the end of season Singapore tournament.

The places have been decided for Singapore and are:

  • Simona Halep (Romania)
  • Garbine Muguruza (Spain)
  • Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic)
  • Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
  • Venus Williams (USA)
  • Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia)
  • Caroline Garcia (France)

And finally

First, let me start by saying God bless the BBC for its efforts in promoting women’s sport in the face of all the bile produced by the Neanderthals every week, who feel their “No-one cares”, or more usually “Who the **** cares?” postings are the sharpest, wittiest comments since Oscar Wilde put pen to paper.

However, (and you knew this was coming) I do have to take issue with their Women’s Champions League coverage.  Last week Chelsea’s first leg match against Bayern Munich was on 5 Live Sports Extra. And very good it was.  The match, which Chelsea won 1-0, was excellent, and the tie was left on a knife-edge.  So it was with some excitement that I tuned in for the second leg on Wednesday, only to find that it wasn’t being covered.  So what was being covered?  The Manchester City v St. Polten tie on Thursday.  So what do these two matches have in common?  They’re the HOME legs.

So the BBC can “splash the cash” to send a reporter to London and Manchester, but can’t stretch to Germany or Austria.  Can you imagine John Murray being told he could cover Manchester United at Old Trafford, but couldn’t travel to an away leg – anywhere in Europe?

I did find the Chelsea game, by the way; excellent coverage, commentary and pictures via Chelsea TV on YouTube.  Would recommend.

Meanwhile, BBC, cover both legs will you?

And, and finally – a special shout out to Ipswich Town Ladies who annihilated Norwich City Ladies 8-1 in the Premier League South East Division One this week.  Fabulous hat-trick for Zoe Cossey.  Good one, ladies.  Come on you Tractor Girls!!

Women’s Sports Column 1-6 January 2017

2012adidasrunningshoesmenssize40-45_012Welcome to the first column of 2017 and a Happy New Year to all my readers.   It’s going to be (yet another) big year for women’s sport with world cups in rugby union (in Ireland), rugby league (Australia), lacrosse (UK) and cricket (UK) as well as the football Euros and EuroHockey, both taking place in the Netherlands.  It’s going to be tricky (and fun) keeping up with it all!

So let’s start with a relatively gentle first column of the year with stories from tennis, cricket, football, athletics, skeleton, UFC and “The Jump”.  In place of the usual “and finally” section, I’ll go through some of the highlights of the New Year’s Honours.

Tennis

Johanna Konta made it to the semi-final of the Shenzhen Open before she was defeated, somewhat surprisingly, by world number 52 Katerina Siniakova.

Konta won the first set 6-1 in just 22 minutes.  Siniakova drew level , winning the second 6-4.  Konta was 4-2 up in the third when Siniakova put together a run of four games to take the set 6-4 and thus the match.

Altogether, though a good warm up for the first grand slam, the Australian Open, which takes place later this month.

Siniakova, who also beat Simona Halep in the second round, will face the American Alison Riske in the final.

Riske, 39 in the world rankings, beat Camila Giorgi 6-3 6-3 in her semi-final to reach the final of the Shenzhen tournament for the second year running.

At the ASB Classic in Auckland Serena Williams was knocked out by fellow American and world number 72 Madison Brengle  4-6 7-6 4-6.  It was her second game back after four months out through injury.

In the same round Venus Williams also retired with an arm injury.

The final will be between Ana Konjuh of Croatia, who beat Julia Goerges in her semi-final 6-3 4-6 6-3 and Lauren Davis of the USA, whose semi-final opponent Jelena Ostapenko retired in the third set at 1-4, the other two sets going 6-4 4-6.

Football

Bad news for women’s football as it was announced yesterday that Sunderland Ladies are to revert to being a part-time club.

In a statement the club said that after three years of employing some players full-time and some part-time was not working,

“Having a mix of full-time and part-time players was not working as effectively as the club, and indeed the players, had envisaged.

“With a number of the squad committed to careers or study, full-time football careers were not an option for them.

“A part-time model for players therefore ensures that students and those with careers such as teaching, can continue to be committed members of the first team squad, without having to make a choice between their career and football.”

The Lady Black Cats finished fourth in their first season in WSL1 in 2015 and seventh last season.

But whatever way you dress it up (and make no mistake, this is dressing it up), this is a backward step.

Sunderland saw a dramatic drop in their attendances last season, down nearly 24%.  Surely it’s no coincidence that they have now gone part-time?

The FA needs to see this for what it is – a backward step and a cry for help.  WSL1 clubs are receiving an increase in their central funding from £70,000 to £92,500.  It’s a drop in the ocean when it comes to running a football club.  If the women’s leagues are to thrive the FA needs to look into this.  But not just look into it, but to act.  They need to make ongoing plans for support – not just one-off payments, go away sort yourselves out and we’ll see you next season.

It seems to me that (and I’ve said this before), that when it comes to women’s sport, governing bodies talk a good game.  They introduce one initiative after another and don’t back it up.  They tinker with the format season after season meaning no consistency for supporters.

This is not just in football, but in all of the major team sports.  There are no easy answers, but governing bodies need to stop the talk and put their “real” backing into women’s sport.

Rant over.

Transfer window

Chelsea continue to strengthen their squad.  This week they signed US international Crystal Dunn from Washington Spirit on a contract until 2018.

Arsenal, meanwhile, seem to be losing players rather than signing them.  Former England player Rachel  Yankey and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne have both been released by the Gunners.

Current WSL1 champions Manchester City Women have signed England under-23 forward Melissa Lawley from Birmingham City Ladies on a two-and-a-half year contract.

Skeleton

Lizzie Yarnold now lies joint third in the World Cup standings after finishing ninth in the third race in Altenberg, Germany.

She had been leading the field, but the winner of the third race, Germany’s Jacqueline Loeling, has now taken her place.

Tina Hermann took silver with Janine Flock taking bronze.  Britain’s Laura Dees finished sixth and is now eighth in the standings.

The next race, number four of eight, will be on 15 January at Winterberg in Germany.

UFC

I don’t mind admitting I struggle with the idea of this as a sport, but this is big news so it gets into the column.

Ronda Rousey lasted only 48 seconds in her comeback fight against Amanda Nunes.

It is thought that she may now consider retirement.

Nunes landed 27 punches in the 48 seconds.

Athletics

This week Scotland’s Laura Muir broke the British indoor 5,000m record by an astonishing 14 seconds.

The record, previously held by Liz McColgan, had stood for 25 years.

She ran the record at the Glasgow Miler Meet in a time of 14 minutes 49.12 seconds.

“The Jump” 

I’m not quite sure why anyone would want to take part in this after the injuries sustained in the last series, but both taekwondo champion Jade Jones and Paralympic double gold medallist Kadeena Cox have signed up to take part in the new series of the Channel 4 series, “The Jump”.

But this is only half the story.  Cox has had her UK Sport funding suspended while she takes part.  Cox is both an athlete and a cyclist and has had the funding withdrawn by British Athletics with the support of British Cycling.

In a statement, British Athletics said,

“Due to the nature of the activities on the show, the athlete cannot continue to be supported by the WCPP (World Class Performance Programme) during this time.

“Her UK Sport funding will be suspended until she returns to training and proves her fitness.”

It is understood that both governing bodies have advised her against taking part in the show.

GB Taekwondo has also expressed their reservations to Jade Jones, but the Welsh champion will go ahead and her funding remains in place.

UK Sport has announced that it is up to each individual governing body to decide whether to continue funding for the duration of the programme.

Cricket

The Rebel WBBL proceeds apace.  Currently Sydney Sixers are top with five wins from eight games but are ahead only on net run-rate.

  played won lost No result points Net run- rate
Sydney Sixers 8 5 3 0 10 0.395
Perth Scorchers 8 5 3 0 10 0.375
Hobart Hurricanes 8 4 3 1 9 -0.026
Melbourne Stars 8 4 4 0 8 0.306
Sydney Thunder 10 4 5 1 8 -0.022
Brisbane Heat 8 4 4 0 8 -0.237
Adelaide Strikers 9 3 4 2 8 -0.128
Melbourne Renegades 9 3 6 0 5.5 -0.628

England opener Lauren Winfield has been drafted in by Brisbane Heat to replace the injured Deandra Dottin.

Dottin fractured a cheekbone after she collided with team mate Laura Harris on 27 December.

And finally,

The honours system may not be to everyone’s taste, but this year’s New Year’s Honours have been good for sportswomen.  Among those honoured include Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katherine Grainger, who are awarded dame-hoods.  There were CBEs for Laura Kenny, Charlotte Dujardin and Sophie Christiansen.  OBEs went to Kate Richardson-Walsh, Katie Archibald and Nicola Adams and MBEs to the whole GB hockey team, Saskia Clarke and Kadeena Cox.

Women’s Sports Column 29 October – 4 November

gambia-goalkeeper

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.

Fatim Jawara

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.

Football

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.

WSL1

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)

Marta (BRA)

Lotta Schelin (SWE)

Christine Sinclair (CAN)

Rugby Union

It was round seven of the Women’s Premiership last weekend.  Bristol won yet again, but it was another thumping defeat for Wasps.

29/10/16

Worcester Valkyries 12-34 Lichfield Ladies

DMP Sharks 20-28 Richmond Women

30/10/16

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.

Netball

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:

PL W D L PTS
Australia 5 5 0 0 10
New Zealand 5 4 0 1 8
England 5 2 1 2 5
Malawi 5 2 0 3 4
Jamaica 5 1 0 4 2
South Africa 5 0 1 4 1

 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.

Ice Hockey

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.

Schedule:

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

Cycling

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,”

he said.

Golf

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.

Speed Skating

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

Tennis

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.

Cricket

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.

And finally,

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……

 

Birmingham City Ladies beat Chelsea Ladies to progress to semi-final of Continental Cup

P1040713I spent a very enjoyable afternoon yesterday at Solihull Moors FC.   The ground is also home to Birmingham City Ladies and I was there to report on their tie against Chelsea in the quarter-final of the Continental Cup.  Here is the link to my report, published by Women’s Sports UK.

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/football/match-report/potter-magic-sends-birmingham-through-to-the-semi-finals-of-the-continental