Women’s sports column 11 – 17 March 2017

soccer ballWelcome to this week’s column.  Plenty to get through again this week.  There have been some big announcements, and although my heart tentatively skips a beat at the new FA Strategy and the Muirfield declaration, I am still weighed down when I read the comments sections after such pieces.  I had made a promise to myself not to look at them, but find myself drawn to the sad, ignorant, abusive nonsense posted by the socially inadequate.  I will stop it, because otherwise I fear that way madness lies.  Anyway, a couple of stellar examples feature in my “And finally” and hopefully that’s the end of it.

Stories this week come from cycling, rugby union, netball, gymnastics, speed skating, hockey, lacrosse, football and golf.

Cycling

It’s still safe to say that British Cycling is in turmoil.  The row about “the package” rumbles on and there seem to be weekly revelations about the culture prevalent in the organisation.  So, perhaps it was not a surprise that this week saw the announcement that Joanna Rowsell Shand is to retire from international cycling.  Of course we all hope that this is a decision based on how well she knows her body and not the urge to leave a possibly sinking ship.

Certainly she is positive about the move;

“The decision to step away has been the hardest I’ve ever had to make.  I believe I have more to offer the world.”

She has indicated that she would like to go into coaching and will also compete in the L’Etape du Tour, an amateur race that covers the same route as the first part of the Tour de France.

In an outstanding career, the 28-year old Rowsell-Shand won gold in the team pursuit at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.  She won five world title, four European titles and a Commonwealth gold in the individual pursuit in 2014.

Netball

It was Round 4 of the Netball Superleague last weekend.  We are down to two unbeaten teams at the top of the table; Surrey Storm and Loughborough Lightning, while Celtic Dragons and Team Northumbria still languish at the bottom without a point.

Last weekend’s scores:

Saturday 11 March

Manchester Thunder 62-53 Celtic Dragons

Surrey Storm 67-45 Hertfordshire Mavericks

Severn Stars 39-48 Team Bath

Wasps 44-57 Loughborough Lightning

Monday 13 March

Team Northumbria 46-64 Sirens

Round 5 is this weekend and Sky’s televised match is on Monday 20 when Team Northumbria takes on Manchester Thunder at 7.45pm.

Lacrosse

Thanks to Martin, as usual, for prompting me into mentioning both lacrosse and hockey this week.

On Saturday 18 March England takes on Japan at the Surrey Sports Park.  This is part of the team’s preparation for the World Cup which takes place at the same venue in July.  If you’re in the area, get along and support the team.  If you don’t know lacrosse well, go and discover it- it’s fast and exciting and pretty much unlike anything else you will see.

Hockey

English domestic hockey

Meanwhile in the IWHL Premier Division, Surbiton have it wrapped up with two games till to play.  This means they will be playing in Europe next season.

On 11 March they beat Bowdon Hightown 6-0 and with just bottom team Reading to play away on Saturday and a final home game on 25 against Clifton Robinsons, their seven-point lead at the top of the table is unassailable.

This is how the table stands:

Team Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Goal Difference Points
Surbiton 16 13 2 1 48 11 37 41
Holcombe 16 10 4 2 40 23 17 34
East Grinstead 16 8 5 3 28 19 9 29
University of Birmingham 16 9 2 5 35 31 4 29
Clifton Robinsons 16 8 1 7 37 27 10 25
Leicester 16 7 4 5 25 22 3 25
Canterbury 16 5 4 7 24 36 -12 19
Slough 16 3 3 10 15 34 -19 12
Bowdon Hightown 16 1 5 10 16 35 -19 8
Reading 16 0 2 14 16 46 -30 2

 Hockey World League (HWL)

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced the schedule for the HWL semi-final, to be held in Brussels this summer.

Seven teams have already booked their places; The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea, Belgium and Spain.

There are three places left to claim and will be decided in a round two event in West Vancouver in April.

The semi-finals will consist of pool stages between June 21 and 27 and the classification matches will begin on 29 June.  The semi-finals will be on 1 July and final on 2 July.

The winners will qualify for the 2018 Hockey World Cup.

Golf

Muirfield members have (finally) voted in favour of admitting women members to the club.

The R&A had said that the course would be unable to host the Open Championship until it changed its admittance rules.

A similar vote in 2016 failed to win the two-thirds backing, but in this new vote 80.2% voted in favour.

Without wishing to spoil this special moment, I’d just like to point out that it still means that out of the 621 who voted, 123 still voted against admitting women…..

Football

The FA launched its new strategy for the future of women’s football this week (stop me if you’ve heard this before).

FA chief executive, Martin Glenn said that women’s football had, in the past, been “let down” by the FA.

There are a number of aspirations named including the hosting of a major tournament, although it is unclear as to when a bid for such an event may be made.

Major commitments include:

  • Building a sustainable and successful high-performance system
  • Building a world-class talent pipeline
  • Increasing the number and diversity of women’s coaches, referees and administrators in the sport at all levels
  • Developing participation opportunities and infrastructure
  • Changing  perceptions and social barriers to participation and following
  • Enhancing the profile and value of the England team and players
  • Signposting opportunities to participate, watch or follow
  • Improving the commercial prospects in women’s football

Read the full document here:

http://www.thefa.com/news/2017/mar/13/fa-womens-football-strategy-gameplan-for-growth-double-participation-130317

Unhappily, one only has to read the comments below any article on women’s football to realise what fundamental shifts of opinion need to happen before we can make any progress at all.

Now we have Baroness Sue Campbell at the heart of things, perhaps change has a chance of becoming a reality.  I recommend you read this article by The Guardian’s Paul MacInnes: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/mar/13/baroness-sue-campbell-womens-football-fa-plan

Her most telling statement and one I agree with wholeheartedly is this;

“I always believe that great development is making yourself redundant,” she says. “Great development in sport is about transforming a system so that it doesn’t need you. If it always needs you then you haven’t really changed the system.”

This is what I have said about initiatives such as “Women’s Sports Week.”

Moves

Sunderland

Melanie Reay has been appointed as the new head coach of Sunderland Ladies after Carlton Fairweather left this week.

Reay had been assistant coach and a former Sunderland striker.

“It is a great honour for me to manage this special club,” she said.

“We have some great young players coming through and hopefully they can make their mark on the team which already has a host of good, experienced players. We will be looking to consolidate and improve together.”

Yeovil Town

The Lady Glovers have extended the contracts of another five first-team players.

England under-19 goalkeeper Charlotte Haynes, midfielders Jessie Jones, Kelly Snook and Leah Burridge and Welsh international striker Nadia Lawrence have all signed new contracts.

Gymnastics

Steve Penny has resigned as USA Gymnastics President and chief executive.  The organisation is currently undergoing investigation into a sexual abuse case involving a team doctor.

Former team doctor Larry Nassar is awaiting trial for child sexual abuse and possessing child pornography.  More than 40 women have a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics, claiming it failed to protect them.

It is alleged that USA Gymnastics did not fully report sexual misconduct claims made by female team members.

The investigation is eight months in already and will, no doubt, run and run.

Speed Skating

Elise Christie won three world championship golds at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Rotterdam at the weekend.  In doing so she became the first British woman to win a world title.

She won the 1000m, 1500m and the overall title.  She also finished fourth in the 500m.

Rugby Union

A crushing win for England and a hard-fought triumph for Ireland have set up a grandstand finale to the 2017 championship and a Grand Slam title to be won.

Saturday 11 March

Wales 7-12 Ireland

There was no score in this match until the 39th minute, when Ireland were awarded a penalty.  They kicked for the corner.  Prop Lindsay Peat crashed over from the resultant maul and Nora Stapleton converted to make the score 0-7 at half-time.

After the break try-scorer Peat was yellow-carded for repeated Irish infringements and Wales steeled themselves to take advantage.

Shona Powell-Hughes went over for the home side and Robyn Wilkins converted to even the score.

With Ireland back to full strength it was then Wales’ turn to go down to 14 as Amy Evans was sin-binned for a high tackle.

After a period of valiant defence by Wales Ireland finally breached the line with winger Hannah Tyrell going over for the try.  Stapleton could not convert and the score was 7-12.

Wales pushed until the end but were unable to convert pressure into points as Ireland held on.

England 64-0 Scotland

Kay Wilson scored a record seven tries for England as they demolished Scotland at the Stoop.

Wilson has scored two tries in the first few minutes and although Emily Scarratt had an off-day with the boot, it made no difference to England’s dominance.

Jessica Forsyth was then sin-binned for Scotland and Amy Cockayne went over soon afterwards to extend the English lead.  After only 20 minutes, the bonus point was secured as Cockayne went over for her second try of the match.

Danielle Waterman scored England’s fifth and then Wilson got her hat-trick.

Wilson then scored her fourth – the first player to score four tries in the first-half of a Championship match.

The first period scoring was not yet done though, as Cockayne completed her hat-trick on the stroke of half-time.

In the second-half Wilson scored her fifth and sixth tries, Scarratt her first and then Wilson got a seventh.  With two conversions the score was 64-0 and the rout over.

Scotland never stopped battling, but were outplayed from the first minute to the last.

Sunday 12 March

Italy 5-28 France

France were in clinical mood in Parma and had a bonus-point win in the bag by half-time.

The visitors scored their first try after nine minutes with Caroline Ladagnous going over.  Audrey Abadie missed the conversion.

On 14, Romane Ménager scored France’s second, this time converted by Abadie.

Ladagnous crossed for her second and Elodie Poublan claimed France’s fourth before half-time.  An Abadie penalty took it to 0-28 at the break.

The second-half saw few chances, indeed the only score being a try for the home side as Michela Este powered over.  The conversion was missed and there was no further scoring.

Round 5

17 March

Scotland v Italy

6.20pm, Broadwood Stadium (Eurosport IT)

Ireland v England

8pm, Donnybrook, (RTE, Sky Sports)

18 March

France v Wales

8pm (GMT), Stade Amédée Domenech, Brive, (France 4)

And finally

And finally, back to where we started.  This enlightened soul commented on the end of the BBC piece about the retirement of Jo Roswell-Shand.  I think it’s safe to say that he misses the point by several million miles….

In response to someone whose post included:
‘ all our cycling girls have shown that women can perform to the highest standards ‘

He so intelligently replied:

“Oh spare me. Only to the highest standards of other women. Not to the standards of men, lets’ clear that up. We are not equal, let’s not start sharing a sporting platform. Unless you wanna be outperformed of course.”

Even more elegant was the fine fellow who posted the first comment I saw after an article about the FA’s new women’s football strategy,

“Nobody gives a f***”, he posted, without the asterisks.

No column next week as I’m away.  

 

Women’s Sports Column 21-27 January 2017

stumps2Welcome to this week’s column.  Apologies for there being no column last week, but I’m back with a vengeance this week with stories from cricket, football, swimming, winter sports, rugby, tennis, boxing, golf, hockey and cycling.  Plus back to one of my hobby horses for “And finally”, but unfortunately it has to be said (again).

So let’s crack on.

Rachael Heyhoe-Flint 

Although I missed the chance to feature Rachael last week, I couldn’t let the chance go by to pay tribute to a true pioneer of women’s cricket.  Every cliché has been said, broadcast and printed over the last couple of weeks, but in this case you cannot help but say “trailblazer”, “pioneer”, “innovator” etc.

There isn’t space to do her justice here, but to capture the highlights of a fabulous career:

England Cricket Captain 1966- 1978

Played in the first ever women’s test match at Lords v Australia in 1976

22 Test matches

23 One-day internationals

Inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2010

First woman to go onto MCC committee in 2004 and the ECB Board

This was just the cricket.  She also was devoted to Wolverhampton Wanderers, including time as vice-president and the city of Wolverhampton, including being president of.

She was awarded an MBE in 1972, OBE in 2008 and made a life peer in 2011.

I think we can safely say women’s cricket wouldn’t be where it is today without her.

 Golf

Muirfield will take another vote on allowing women members after the first one fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the move.

The result is expected some time in March.  The R&A has indicated that the course will be unable to stage another Open Championship until its policy is reversed.

Hockey

 World Hockey League

 Ireland have won the first section of Round Two of the World Hockey League in Kuala Lumpur.

They beat Malaysia 3-0 in the final on Sunday.

Anna O’Flanagan, Katie Mullan and Zoe Wilson were the goalscorers.

They had beaten Wales in the semi-finals.

The next section of round 2 takes place in Valencia from 4-12 February.

 Football

 England Lionesses

England played two friendlies in Spain this week.

England 0-1 Norway

England lost their first match of 2017 and in doing so their 10-match unbeaten run came to an end.

Ada Hegerberg scored the only goal of the game half way through the first half, heading home from a cross from her sister, Andrine.

England did have chances to equalise with both Fara Williams and Lucy Bronze shooting over and a shot from Steph Houghton cleared off the line.

England also had a claim for a penalty, after Ellen White appeared to be pushed in the box, but the appeal was dismissed.

England 0-0 Sweden

Siobhan Chamberlain saved a second-half penalty to earn England a draw in Murcia on Tuesday.

Sweden also had the ball in the back of the net in the first-half, but it was ruled out for offside.

It was a game of few chances, and although manager Mark Sampson will be pleased at the clean sheet, he may be concerned at his side’s inability to score in either game.

England’s next fixtures are against France, USA and Germany in the She Believes Cup in March.

Indian Football

There was a big announcement in Indian football this week.  The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has launched a six-team women’s league.  It is small steps indeed, as the league will take place over two weeks and all games will be played at the Ambedkar Stadium in Dehli.

The project has taken two years to come to fruition and the teams taking part are FC Alakhpura, Jeppiaar Institute of Technology FC, Aizawl FC, FC Pune City, Rising Student Club and Eastern Sporting Union.

There will be a round robin stage with the top four going into semi-finals.

The first game takes place on 28 January.

As I say, it may seem small steps to us, but in terms of the development of women’s football in India, this is a giant stride.  Watch this space for results and more news as the tournament progresses.

National Football Museum

The National Football Museum in Manchester has been given a grant to maintain and enlarge its collection of women’s football memorabilia.

Interim director of the museum, Kevin Haygarth, said,

“We’re delighted this grant will help us significantly document the history of one of the world’s most participated sports – women’s football.

“The museum has always told the story of the women’s game throughout its main galleries and Hall Of Fame, but we’re grateful and excited by the opportunity to create a dedicated gallery where we can finally piece together the lost history of women’s football.”

Tennis

The Australian Open final is going to be a stunner.  It will be between Serena and Venus Williams.  It is Venus’s first major final since 2009 and Serena is going for her 23rd grand slam so it is bound to be well fought.

Venus, seeded 13. Beat fellow American Coco Vandeweghe 6-7 6-2 6-2 in her semi-final while Serena had far too much for the unseeded Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2 6-1.

Johanna Konta came up against Serena in the quarter-final.  This was the first time the two had met.  Konta was in a prodigious run of form and had not lost a set during the championships.  But she could not live with Williams and was beaten 6-2 6-3.

With the men’s final possibly heading for a Federer v Nadal showdown, we seem to have gone back in time!

The women’s doubles title was won by second seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Šafářová.  They beat Andrea Hlaváčková and Peng Shuai in three sets 6-7 6-3 6-3.  This is their second grand slam win in a row.

Winter Sports

Skiing

You can’t keep a phenomenal skier down.

Lindsey Vonn claimed her first win in almost a year this week when she won the downhill at Garmisch, Germany on Saturday.

She beat Swiss skier, Lara Gut, by 0.15 seconds.  The win was Vonn’s 77th World Cup race win.

Para-skiing

It was a great start to competition for Britain at the World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Italy as Britain’s Millie Knight and guide Brett Wild won downhill gold in a time of 13.42 seconds.

The 18-year old beat five time champion Henrieta Farkasova of Slovakia into second.

Knight’s run was not without its moments though, as she hit the barrier at the end and became stuck under it.  She was treated by doctors after she complained of feeling dizzy and sick afterwards.

In the same event Menna Fitzpatrick and guide Jennifer Kehoe finished fifth.

It was bad news for Paralympic champion Kelly Gallagher, though, as she misses the event after crashing in training.  She suffered a dislocated elbow and three fractured ribs in the accident.  She was testing the championship course, and although she landed her jump correctly, she then slid into the barrier net which caused the injury.

The Championships take place from 25-31 January and 130 skiers from 30 countries are taking part.

Speed skating

Britain’s Charlotte Gilmartin took 500m bronze at the European Short Track Championships in Turin this week.  She did not qualify for the 1500m final but recovered well to finish third in the shorter distance with a time of 44.074 seconds.  Gold went to Rianne de Vries of Holland and Italy’s Martina Valcepina took silver.

Cricket

WBBL

The Women’s Big Bash League final will be between the Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers (as will the men’s final!).

Semi-final details:

Sydney Sixers 169-6 (20 overs)
Hobart Hurricanes 66 all out (14.1 overs)
Sixers won by 103 runs

Alyssa Healy starred with the bat for the Sixers, scoring 77 from 45 balls.

The Hurricanes were never at the races.  England captain, Heather Knight, was run out for three and the Hurricanes were bowled out for just 66.  Dane van Niekerk was pick of the bowlers with 3 for 15.

Brisbane Heat 124-5 (20 overs)
Perth Scorchers 125-1 (15.4 overs)
Scorchers won by nine wickets

The Brisbane score was competitive but the Heat didn’t reckon with Elyse Villani.  The opener made 52 not out and Nicole Bolton 36 to take the home side to the final.

England fast bowling duo of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole were unable to make a mark in the semi-final, but will hoping to contribute for the Scorchers at the Waca (The Furnace) on Saturday.

The final will be played on Saturday 28 in a double-header with the men’s.  Full coverage will be on BT Sport.

Boxing

Nicola Adams has left the GB Boxing programme to turn professional.

She has signed with promoter Frank Warren and will make her professional debut in Manchester on 8 April.  Her second fight will be in Leeds, her home town, on 13 May.

Warren was initially sceptical about the concept of women boxing, but appears to have changed his mind (could it be he knows when he’s on to a good thing?)

In an interview with the BBC he said,

“Of all of all the signings I have made in my 35 years in the sport of boxing, this is among the most I have been excited about.

“I think Nicola will be challenging for world titles within a year. We intend to lead her to become a multiple world champion.”

Ireland’s Katie Taylor has already shown it can be done.  Let’s hope Adams can have similar successes.

Rugby Union

Six Nations

The Six Nations begins next week. The first round of matches is:

Friday 3 February

Scotland Women v Ireland Women (6.35pm Broadwood Stadium)

Saturday 4 February

Italy Women v Wales Women (3pm Stadio Comunale Pacifico Carotti)

En gland Women v France Women (7.30pm Twickenham)

Check out the squads and match details here: http://www.rbs6nations.com/en/women/#Jas1vHmPQWwEKguy.97

Sevens

England has named its squad for the Sydney Sevens, the second leg of the HSBC Women’s Sevens Series, which takes place on 3-4 February.  England finished a creditable fourth in the first round in Dubai.

Rachael Woosey and Chantelle Miell make their debut.

The squad is:

  1. Natasha Brennan, 2. Abbie Brown (C), 3. Alice Richardson-Watmore, 4. Millie Wood, 5. Lauren Cattell, 6. Rachael Woosey, 7. Heather Fisher, 8. Kelly Smith, 9. Fran Matthews, 10. Jo Richardson-Watmore, 11. Katie Mason, 12. Chantelle Miell

They play in pool C and this is the pool schedule (all times GMT):

Friday 3 February

England v Spain, KO 1.30am

England v USA, KO 4.12am

England v Russia, 7.16am

All games are available to see on the World Rugby website

http://www.worldrugby.org/womens-sevens-series/videoTop of Form

Swimming

Open water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne has announced her retirement this week.

Payne, 29, was a two-time open water world champion and Olympic silver medallist.  She represented Great Britain for over 12 years.

Cycling

The rumblings of discontent with British Cycling and cycling in general, continue.  Nicole Cooke, who always speaks her mind, was again in the press this week.

She was giving evidence to a Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday.

She said that she is “sceptical” of Team Sky’s attitude to drug use and Sir Bradley Wiggins’ TUE use.

But this was just one of her points.  She also said that British Cycling is run “by men for men”.

The committee was meeting to discuss doping in sport, but that didn’t stop Cooke expressing opinions on other aspects of the governing body’s capabilities.

She gave examples of the sexism she had seen during her career and said that BC shows “discrimination and favouritism” because it is only “answerable to itself”.

She was asked outright whether she though sexism was culturally embedded in British Cycling.

“Yes I do,” she replied.

British Cycling has since released a statement in which it says,

“While there is still a way to go, British Cycling is absolutely committed to resolving the historic gender imbalance in our sport.”

UK Sport has also launched an independent review to look into some of Cooke’s claims.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – sadly, this one will run and run.

And finally,

I make no apologies for this although I know it’s something I keep banging on about.  Serena Williams is about to go for her 23rd grand slam title on Saturday.  Her talent, skill and fitness should all be beyond doubt.  I have already made a vow to stop reading the comments sections on news site articles, but, unfortunately I slipped and read the ones after the BBC’s report on the Williams v Konta match.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Konta fan, and I would have been happy for her to have won the tie.  She has a great future and is improving all the time.  But the level of abuse, invective, racism and misogyny levelled at Serena in these comments was appalling.

So many (men) called Serena a man – well I don’t know any men who look like that.  But the one that stuck in my mind was (again a man) the description of her as a “monster in a skirt”.  Really?  Monster?

The comment reminded me of that Facebook comment about Michelle Obama, “chimp in heels”.  Both comments totally unwarranted and totally offensive.

I know I’m fighting for a Serena who doesn’t need my help – she’s probably as immune to negative comment as she’s ever going to be right now, but I’m not necessarily speaking on her behalf.  I was offended.  I was angry that some person had thought it was appropriate to air this view on a public platform.

I think I’m trying to say, if you can’t stop having these thoughts, just spare the rest of us and keep them to yourself.

Women’s Sports Column 14-20 May

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

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

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

There were also some league matches this week:

13 May

Chelsea Ladies 0-2 Manchester City Women
Staines

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

Sunderland Ladies 0-4 Liverpool Ladies
Hetton Centre

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

Birmingham City Ladies 0-0 Reading Ladies
Solihull Moors

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

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

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

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

Niamh Charles scored both goals to take the win.

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

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

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

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

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

Berkshire v Warwickshire
Wokingham

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

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

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

Kent v Middlesex
Canterbury

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

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

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

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

Somerset v Sussex
Bath

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among the best were:

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

Fran Halsall grabbing bronze in the 50m butterfly

Jazz Carlin’s silver in the 800m freestyle

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Johanna Konta v Julia Goerges

Heather Watston v Nicole Gibbs

Laura Robson v Andrea Petkovic (very tough)

Naomi Broady v Coco Vandeweghe

 

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

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

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

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

 

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