Women’s Sports Column 21-27 July 2018

fieldhockeysticksWelcome to this week’s column.  It’s been yet another one of those weeks when I wish I hadn’t “read the comments” on various articles, but I’m not going to give the trolls any more publicity by giving details.

But there are also lots of positive stuff out there and lots to get through so here we go with stories from golf, football, hockey (there’s a World Cup going on, you know), cycling, rugby, cricket and athletics.

Snowboarding

Terrible news to start the column this week.  Snowboarder Ellie Soutter died on Wednesday, on her eighteenth birthday.

Soutter was a tremendous prospect and was in line to make the GB team for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

She had already won a bronze medal at the 2017 Youth Olympic Winter Festival and was picked for the GB team for the Junior World Championships in New Zealand in August and the senior GB squad for the snowboard cross Europa Cup.

Hockey

There have been shocks a-plenty in the first week of the Hockey World Cup in London.  Ireland, second lowest ranked side in the tournament, have become the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals.  England, meanwhile, can no longer qualify automatically and will have to go through play-offs.

Scores so far:

Pool A
China 0-3 Italy
Netherlands 7-0 Korea

Pool B
England 1-1 India
USA 1-3 Ireland
USA 1-1 England
India 0-1 Ireland

Pool C
Germany 3-1 South Africa
Argentina 6-2 Spain
Germany 3-2 Argentina
Spain 7-1 South Africa

Pool D
Australia 3-2 Japan
New Zealand 4-2 Belgium
Japan 2-1 New Zealand
Australia 0-0 Belgium

So far, Ireland have been the stars and England will need to up their game on Sunday if they are to beat the team with momentum on their side.  England have looked a bit nervous and even lethargic, but certainly unlucky at times.

The Netherlands look the team to beat.  They have only played one game so far against a poor Korean team, but they looked superb.  Australia, by contrast, have not impressed.  They nearly let a big lead against Japan slip and were unconvincing against Belgium.  The other team I have enjoyed watching so far is Japan.  They put in 100% effort all of the time and with no little skill.  The Cherry Blossoms (yes, really) deserved their win against the Black Sticks and will hopefully go further in the tournament.

For all the news, scores and fixtures check out the tournament website: http://www.fih.ch/events/world-cup/world-cup-2018/hockey-world-cup-london-2018-w/

Football – on the pitch

Women’s International Champions Cup

Manchester City are currently in the US playing in this new competition.  Three of Europe’s top teams; Olympic Lyonnais, Paris Saint-Germain and City are playing alongside the NWSL leaders, North Carolina Courage.

In the first match Courage beat PSG 2-1.  Jess McDonald scored the first after 19 minutes.  PSG drew level just before half-time with through an own goal.  But the US side claimed the points when they scored five minutes from time through Darian Jenks.

In the second match Manchester City were well beaten by European champions, Olympic Lyonnais.  The French side took the lead after just four minutes, through Eugenie Le Sommer.  Le Sommer bagged a second ten minutes later and three minutes after that Ada Hegerberg got the third and the game was effectively over before half-time.

Football – off the pitch

Signings

I may have seemed somewhat grumpy last week when I was questioning some of the overseas signings made by both Super League and Championship teams during the close season.  But there are also a fair few British players who will be plying their trade both on the continent and further next season, one of whom will be Izzy Christiansen.

Christiansen has signed a two-year contract with European champions, Lyon.  She will, of course, be joining up with former Manchester City teammate Lucy Bronze.

A selection of other signings:

Scotland midfielder Chloe Arthur has signed a two-year contract with Birmingham City from Bristol City.

Everton have signed striker Hannah Cain from Sheffield FC.

Reading Women have dabbled in the market yet again and have signed Doncaster Rovers Belles left-back Mayumi Pacheco and striker Millie Farrow from Bristol City.

West Ham are at it again too, signing German international midfielder Julia Simic from SC Freiburg.

Bristol City have been busy this week; left-back Ali Johnson has joined them from Liverpool and New Zealand international striker Katie Rood from Juventus.

Going the other way, Nadia Nadim has put in a transfer request at Manchester City.  She is clearly unhappy.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“It is a fantastic club in many ways, but not for me.

“I’ve never felt home either in Manchester or Man City. I have made it very clear to the management that I want out, and this is something I’ve felt for a long time.”

Let’s hope she finds a way that suits all soon.

The FA has Spoken (or at least this is what’s happening at the moment)

Unsurprisingly, the FA has dismissed both Sunderland and Blackburn’s appeals and the Women’s Super League and Championship will comprise 11 teams in each next season.

It has been confirmed that Sunderland will play in the third tier, the Women’s National League.  The club is, understandably, disappointed, and released a statement, which you can read here:

https://www.safc.com/news/ladies-news/2018/july/ladies-appeal-unsuccessful

So it seems that the FA is now satisfied that the 22 chosen ones have met the required criteria.  But then they seemed satisfied with Doncaster Rovers Belles and Sheffield FC, both of whom have had to withdraw with financial problems.

I can’t help thinking this season will be make or break for the future of women‘s football in England – let’s just hope it’s not “break”.

Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award

Chelsea Head Coach, Emma Hayes, is among those on the shortlist for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award.  The shortlist in full:

  • Emma Hayes (Eng) – Chelsea Ladies
  • Stephan Lerch (Ger) – VfL Wolfsburg
  • Mark Parsons (Eng) – Portland Thorns
  • Reynald Pedros (Fra) – Olympique Lyonnais
  • Alen Stajcic (Aus) – Australia national team
  • Asako Takakura (Jpn) – Japan national team
  • Vadao (Brz) – Brazil national team
  • Jorge Vilda (Spa) – Spain national team
  • Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (Ger) – Switzerland national team
  • Sarina Wiegman (Ned) – Netherlands national team

You can vote for your favourite – here is the link:

https://www.fifa.com/the-best-fifa-football-awards/best-fifa-womens-coach/

Golf – on the course

Scottish Open

Tiffany Joh leads the Scottish Open after a first round 62.  She is four shots ahead of In-Kyung Kim, Amy Yang and Jenny Shin, who lie at five under par.

Kelsey McDonald of Scotland is one further back, as is England’s Charley Hull.

Golf – off the course

The countdown to the Solheim Cup is officially on!

You know it’s getting serious when Europe names its vice-captains.  This week Europe captain Catriona Matthew named Suzann Petterson and Kathryn Imrie as her vice-captains.

Petterson is a veteran of no fewer than eight Solheim Cups and was also a vice-captain in 2017.

Imrie has only played in one Cup, in 1996.

The sixteenth Solheim Cup will be at Gleneagles from 13-15 September 2019.

Cricket

We’re underway in this year’s Kia Super League.  At the risk of inducing the curse, Loughborough Lightning lead the way at this early stage with two wins from two.

22 July

Surrey Stars 141/9 (20 overs)
Southern Vipers 145/3 (17 overs)
Vipers won by 7 wickets

The Stars got off to an abysmal start at Guildford, losing both openers, Lizelle Lee and Bryony Smith for ducks.  Sarah Taylor, new to the Stars this season, made only six as the Stars slumped to 12/3.  Nat Sciver soon followed for two and they were deep in trouble at 18/4.

They then rallied with Dane van Niekerk scoring 31 and Marizanne Kapp 19 but it was Sophia Dunkley’s 66 from 43 balls that saw them post a useful 141.   Fi Morris was pick of the bowlers with 4/22.

But the Vipers haven’t been champions and runners-up in the last two seasons for nothing.  Their openers (Danni Wyatt 6 and Suzie Bates 9) went cheaply, but Tammy Beaumont scored 62 from 45 balls, ably supported by Mignon du Preez with 48 from 31 balls.  Du Preez went with the Vipers needing just 22, and Beaumont and Sarah McGlashan saw it home with three overs to spare.

Lancashire Thunder 72 all out (16.5 overs)
Loughborough Lightning 74/4 (15.1 overs)
Lightning won by 6 wickets

At the top of the order Eve Jones tried to hold it together while those around were out cheaply.  She made 19 from 20 balls, while the next seven batters scored 20 between them.  Kate Cross and Natalie Brown hit 13 each towards the end of the innings but it all added up to a paltry 72.

New signing Jenny Gunn took 3/10 from three overs and Sophie Devine took 3/15 from 2.5.

Lightning took their time in getting the runs.  At one point they were 19/3 and Thunder may have sniffed a chance.  But Elyse Villani (13), Georgia Elwiss (19) and Georgia Adams (22) saw them home.

Yorkshire Diamonds 162/5 (20 overs)
Western Storm 166/3 (15.2 overs)
Storm won by 7 wickets

The Diamonds posted a creditable 162, but the Storm never looked in danger of losing this one.  Delissa Kimmince top-scored for Yorkshire with 55, Lauren Winfield made 41 and Alice Davidson-Richards 33.

In response, Rachel Priest went for a duck, but England captain Heather Knight and Indian star Smriti Mandhana took it on.  Mandhana hit 48 from 20 balls before she was caught by Winfield off the bowling of Davidson-Richards.  Knight continued, scoring a fine 97 off 62.  In the end they won with a huge 27 balls to spare.

25 July

Southern Vipers 105 all out
Loughborough Lightning 109/4 (18.5)
Lightning won by 6 wickets

Lightning bagged their second win and their first against the Vipers on Wednesday with a fine bowling display.

Tammy Beaumont top-scored for the Vipers with 37, but Arran Brindle (19) and Mignon du Preez (13) were the only others to make double figures.

The wickets were shared between the bowlers; Devine 3/21, Smith 2/18, Gordon 2/23, Gunn 1/20, Glenn 1/14.

Lightning again took their time to get to their target.  Amy Jones and Elyse Villani both scored 35, with Villani particularly impressing.  After those two were out the game was seen home by Jenny Gunn (9) and Georgia Adams (5)

26 July

Western Storm 132/9 (20 overs)
Surrey Stars 136/3 (15.5 overs)
Stars won by 7 wickets

Who can stop the Western Storm?  Well Surrey, for a start.  Not many would have predicted this result.

Storm made a good start as the openers made a 43 partnership.  Priest was first to go for 21 but big guns Knight and Stafanie Taylor made only 6 each.  Mandhana battled for 37 from 21 balls.  Others tried to make starts, but there were no further significant scores and the Storm could only muster a middling 132.

Sophia Dunkley was pick of the bowlers with 3/18 off just two overs.

All of the Stars batters got starts.  Lee (22) and Smith (33) started it off and Sarah Taylor made 50 not out.  She and van Niekerk (14) saw it home with 25 balls to spare.

Athletics

Anniversary Games –results

Last weekend’s Anniversary Games saw mixed results for Team GB:

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price of Jamaica took the 100m with Dezerea Bryant of USA in second and Jonielle Smith of Jamaica in third.   GB’s Imani-Lara Lansiquot was fifth and Bianca Williams seventh.

It was a USA one-two in the 200m.  Jenna Prandini finished first and Gabrielle Thomas second.    Shericka Jackson of Jamaica came in third while GB’s Dina Asher-Smith was fourth.

The 400m saw a Jamaica one-two.  Stephenie-Ann McPherson was first and Anastasia Le-Roy second.  Courtney Okolo of USA was third.  Anyika Onuora was the best-placed British athlete in fifth.

Ce’Aira Brown of USA won the 800m.  Natoya Goule of Jamaica was second, while Lynsey Sharp of GB was third.

Laura Muir was being lined up to beat Zola Budd’s British mile record, but in the end could only finish fifth.  Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands won the race with Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia in second and Hellen Obiri of Kenya in third.

Lilian Kasait Rengeruk of Kenya took the 3000m.  Susan Krumins of the Netherlands was second and Katie Mackey of the USA third.  GB’s Melissa Courtney was fifth and Steph Twell sixth.

The 100m hurdles was a one-two-three for the USA.  Kendra Harrison was first, Brianna McNeal second and Sharika Nelvis third.

The US also took the 400m hurdles.  Shamia Little won it, Janieve Russell of Jamaica in second and Dalilah Muhammed of USA in third.

In the field events, the high jump was won by Mariya Lasitskene of Russia, Elena Vallortigara of Italy second and Morgan Lake of GB was joint third with Vashti Cunningham of USA.

It was a GB one-two in the long jump with Shara Proctor taking it from Lorraine Ugen with Brooke Stratton of Australia in third.

Sandra Perkovic of Croatia took the discus with Yaime Perez  and Denia Caballero of Cuba second and third respectively.

Hui Hui Lyi of China won the javelin.  Nikola Ogrodnikova of the Czech Republic was second and Kelsey-Lee Roberts third.

Rugby Union

Rugby World Cup Sevens

England’s disappointing Sevens season continued in San Francisco when they were beaten in their first game by Ireland 14-19.

Ashleigh Baxter scored the first try for Ireland after three minutes.   The conversion was missed and three minutes later Emily Scarratt’s try drew England level.  Holly Aitchison scored the conversion to take them ahead.   Amee Murphy Crowe then bagged two tries, both of which were converted by Lucy Mulhall.  England pulled one back on 14 minutes, converted again, but it was not enough.

England went on to defeat Mexico 59-0, China 38-0 and Japan 31-5 in the Challenge competition final, but this was scant consolation for not going through in the Championship competition.

The Championship final was won by New Zealand 29-0 against France. Michaela Blyde scored a hat-trick of tries and Portia Woodman and Tyla Nathan-Wong one each.  Nathan-Wong also put over two conversions.

Australia took the bronze final, beating USA 24-14.

Cycling

Bad news from cycling this week as it was announced that Wiggle High5 will fold after this season.

The team was founded in 2013 and employed 17 riders and 14 full-time members of staff.

It is thought that they are folding due to a lack of sponsorship.  Among those who will need to find new teams are Lucy and Grace Garner, Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker.

Other team members Elisa Longo Borghini and Audrey Cordon-Ragot have already been linked with the new Trek team, led by Lizzie Deignan.

Although my cycling knowledge is not extensive, I do see it as a typical “two steps forward, one back” sport.  For every positive story, there seems to be a negative one and most seem to revolve around funding.  This may be something professional cyclists are prepared for when they start out, but it does seem to be a sport more prone to gaps and problems with sponsorship.  I know there are plenty of professionals out there working in sports sponsorship – and those who specialise in women’s sport.  But it’s not happening.  There are the high-profile success stories; Vitality, SSE, Kia, etc., but some sports obviously need a better strategy.

I’d  like to do some work in this areas so, if anyone dealing in sports sponsorship wants to talk to me about it, or if anyone has ideas they would like to share, please get in touch via the website.

And finally

 “Outrage”.  There’s a lot of it about.  I must admit I’m not immune and I do get sucked in to the vast stagnant pond of outrage that is social media.  Some of it I think is justified – women raped and blamed for it with nauseating regularity, immigrating parents separated from their children at the border, women’s rights over their own bodies constantly being eroded, the rise of Neo-Nazism, etc.

And then there’s the other kind of “outrage” usually promulgated by those such as the Daily Mail – those foreigners coming over here, using our services and taking our jobs, “Europe” robbing us blind at every turn, anyone who is unlike their white middle-aged middle-class readership doing absolutely anything!

So imagine my surprise when that same Mail calls the fact that Barcelona’s women’s team flew economy while their male counterparts flew business on the same plane an “outrage”.  All I can say is it did me good. I’d like to think I wouldn’t have described it as an “outrage” – disappointing, a rubbish decision, a backwards step – something like that, but not an “outrage”.

But just in case I may have been tempted to do so, this headline has made me see sense.  It’s a poor decision by the club, but it’s not an “outrage”.  Time to get things into perspective, I think.

No column next week as I am out and about (at the cricket, truth be told), but back in a fortnight with more news and views.

Women’s Sports Column 23-29 April

netball2It’s still all go in the world of women’s sport. The newspapers are full of it (not). Well actually they are, full of the crisis enveloping British Cycling. That’s because it’s scandal and has the potential to be titillating. As for match reports, scores and achievements, not so interesting.

Still, here I have news from triathlon, football, cricket, netball, swimming, taekwondo, cycling and athletics, – plus a classic “and finally”

Wales’ Non Stanford staked her claim for Rio gold by winning the World Triathlon Series event in Cape Town on 24 April. She took the title in 59 minutes, 49 seconds, seven seconds ahead of England’s Jodie Stimpson, with Bermuda’s Flora Duffy in third.

 

The women’s Super League season is back up and running with Manchester City and Chelsea stamping their authority already.

Birmingham City 0–2 Manchester City

Three out of three for Manchester City as they took the points at Birmingham this week. Daphne Corboz scored the first after Nikita Paris had hit the post to go in one up at half time. In the second half Manchester took control, but it wasn’t until stoppage time that they sealed the points with a Jane Ross header.

Notts County Ladies 2-2 Reading Women

Notts County came from behind to earn a point against a strong Reading side. The visitors took the lead after only seven minutes through a long-range shot from Helen Ward. County equalised from a Jess Clarke penalty after Fern Whelan had handled. Reading took the lead for a second time through a headed goal from Kirsy McGee. But County didn’t give up and the classy Clarke lobbed the Reading goalkeeper on 64 minutes to snatch a point. It won’t be much consolation for either side, though, as both are still looking for their first win of the season.

Liverpool 2-2 Sunderland

In contrast, both Liverpool and Sunderland remain unbeaten this season as they fought out a keenly-contested draw. Liverpool must have thought they were home and dry as they took a 2-0 lead through Caroline Weir and Laura Coombs, but Sunderland were not to be outdone.   Brooke Chaplen scored just before half time to get the Lady Black Cats back into it and then netted a second at the beginning of the second half to earn the draw. Liverpool looked to snatch it at the end, but couldn’t convert their chances.

Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea

Chelsea looked very impressive as they easily put away a poor Arsenal side. Mini-Messi, Fran Kirby scored twice – the first a neat lob over Sari van Veenendaal in the Arsenal goal and the second thumped in from just three yards after a scramble.

 

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) awards took place this week.

Izzy Christiansen was named PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year 2016.

The Manchester midfielder has had a stunning twelve months. She scored six times in the last seven games to help City finish second in the league. She also scored on her debut for the senior England side against Estonia in September.

Beth Mead was named the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year 2016.

In 2015 Beth finished as top scorer in FA WSL1 with 12 goals in 14 games for Sunderland. She was named FA WSL1 Players’ Player of the Year and Young England Player of the Year. She played in the 2014 Under-20 World Cup in Canada and is now training with the senior England squad, although she is yet to make her senior debut.

 

The shortlist for the 2016 BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year award has been announced this week.

The players are:

Gaelle Enganamouit (Cameroon)

Amandine Henry (France)

Kim Little (Scotland)

Carli Lloyd (USA)

Becky Sauerbrunn (USA)

The award is given by the World Service. You can vote online or by text. The closing date is Monday 9 May. For more information on the shortlisted candidates see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/36102460

 

This Bank Holiday weekend sees the start of the new Royal London One-Day Championship

It could well be the last, as next year the Kia Super League will not only comprise a T20 tournament but a 50 over one too. The current county players will be keen to do well if they are to break into the Super League. Can anyone topple Yorkshire from top spot in Division One?

The first round of fixtures in the top two divisions are as follows:

Division One

Sunday 1st May 2016

Middlesex v Surrey at Eastcote CC

Somerset v Kent at Taunton CC

Staffordshire v Berks at Wolverhampton CC

Warwickshire v Sussex at Edgbaston Foundation Ground

Monday 2nd May 2016

Staffordshire v Somerset at Meakins CC

Surrey v Berks at Reed’s School

Sussex v Kent at The Saffrons, Eastbourne

Yorkshire v Warwickshire at Harrogate CC

Division Two

Sunday 1st May 2016

Essex v Wales at Billericay CC

Hants v Devon at Hursley Park CC

Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire at Welbeck CC

Monday 2nd May 2016

Essex v Devon at Felsted School

Lancashire v Nottinghamshire at Wigan Sports Club

Leicestershire v Wales at Empingham CC

 

The semi-finals of the Vitality Netball Super League have been decided. The last round of results were:

Saturday 23 April

Loughborough Lightning 55-75 TeamBath

Hertfordshire mavericks 48-52 Surrey Storm

Team Northumbria 60-47 Celtic Dragons

It was an amazingly tight finish at the top, with Thunder top and Mavericks, Storm and Bath all finishing on 30 points. Final placings had to be decided through goal average. The semi-finals are this weekend and will be:

Saturday 30 April

Manchester Thunder v Team Bath (Thunderdome) 4pm

Surrey Storm v Hertfordshire Mavericks (Surrey Sports Park) 6pm

Both games will be live on Sky Sports.

 

Qualifying for Rio, for both Olympics and Paralympics, is in full swing, particularly in swimming.

Among those to achieve the qualifying standard time this week was 12-year old Abby Kane, who set a new British record in the heats of the S13 100m backstroke with a time of 1 minute 11.92 seconds. She then broke this in the later heats to take it to one minute 11.19 seconds.

Steph Slater also qualified in the backstroke in the S3 category.

Ellie Simmonds and Bethany Firth also broke their own world records to secure their Rio berths. Simmonds, who has already won four Paralympic golds, qualified for the S6 400m freestyle with a time of five minutes 18.69 seconds.

Firth beat her own record of 2 minutes 4.44 by 0.74 of a second to qualify for the S14 200m freestyle.

 

Olympic taekwondo champion Jade Jones came back from injury with a vengeance this week to win gold at the German Open.

She won four bouts in total in the -57kg category– winning by default in the final as her Canadian opponent Ivett Gonda withdrew.

Bianca Walkden also took gold in the +73kg category.

The European Taekwondo Championships take place in Switzerland in May.

 

The London Marathon took place last Sunday. Jemima Sumgong of Kenya took the title in a time of two hours 22.58 seconds. Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia was second two hours, 23.03 seconds and Florence Kiplagat from Kenya third in a time of two hours, 23.29 minutes. Sumgong recovered from a fall, hitting her head in the process before picking herself up to make her way through the field to win.

The Marathon was also a trial event for qualifying for Rio. Alyson Dixon and Sonia Samuels finished as the top British women in 13th and 14th respectively. They had already secured their places by running the standard.

In the women’s wheelchair race, the amazing Tatyana McFadden won her fourth consecutive victory in a time of one hour 44.14 seconds, only 0.01 seconds ahead of Manuela Schar from Switzerland, with Wakako Tsuchida of Japan a further one minute 14 seconds behind.

 

Now to the cycling. Every time I write something, there’s another development, but here’s the story to date. I think it’s not too dramatic to say that British Cycling is in crisis, even though it insists it isn’t. It’s also safe to say that the sport is split straight down the middle. And with fewer than 100 days to go to Rio, it would be redundant of me to say that they need to get their act together and sort it out as soon as possible.

I reported last week that Jess varnish had been dropped from the Performance team because, according to technical director Shane Sutton, she “had not made the necessary gains in performance compared to the rest of the world.” Varnish countered with claims of gender discrimination including that she was told to “go and have a baby” by Sutton.

Since then Sutton has been suspended pending an investigation and in the latest turn of events he has resigned his post. Further claims and counter-claims have arisen, including accusations of Sutton’s attitude toward para-cyclists and to other female riders.

Inevitably, some have come out in favour and some against and we certainly haven’t heard the last of it. Things were further complicated by a separate scandal this week when it was suggested that some elite British Cycling gear, including a top-range bike, were being sold on e-bay.

 

And finally, a 12-year old girl “accidentally” ran a half marathon this week (believe me I’d know if I’d run a half marathon by mistake). Lee was supposed to be running a 5km in Rochester in the US, but she turned up just as the half marathon runners were setting off and joined them thinking it was her race. Her parents were worried when she didn’t turn up and a police motorcycle tracked her down, but by that time Lee was determined to finish the 13 mile race. She completed in a time of two hours, 43 minutes and 31 seconds.

Isn’t that a better “And finally” than reading about Bernie Ecclestone’s inanities last week?