Author Topic: England ready for tonight's match  (Read 6150 times)

Offline Alan

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England ready for tonight's match
« on: June 22, 2015, 04:24:53 PM »
On Monday night in Ottawa, with Norway as the opposition, England's women will play their most significant match.  Lose and they go home for a break before the start of the domestic season.  A win would bring hopes of more players, more fans, more coverage and more sponsorship.  The FA has poured funds into an increasingly professional game yet crowds in the Womens Super League (WSL) fixtures remain stubbornly low.

If they could reach the semifinal of the World Cup by winning the next two matches they can expect praise for Mark Sampson's bold management techniques.  There can be no doubt that these are working.  It probably helps that the class of 2015 know they are lucky to be the first generation of their gender to earn a proper living from football.  The captain of Manchester City and England, Steph Hougton, receives around £70,000 per year from her central FA contract and her City salary.  But the WSL is still only part-professional, with first-teamers juggling an eclectic range of part-time careers.

Claire Rafferty, Chelsea's left-back and an economics graduate, chooses to work three days a week as an analyst at Deutsche Bank, while her teammate Eniola Aluko is on an extended sabbatical from life as a lawyer.  Unlike many male players England's women are often well educated, invariably articulate and usually open and engaging.  The advent of agents is slowly reducing access to the players but Karen Carney and Fran Kirby, perhaps the two most creative players in the squad, have both suffered from acute depression and speak candidly about their illnesses.  

Meanwhile Fara Williams, an influential midfielder, spent the early part of her career sleeping on the streets or in hostels, and now campaigns for the homeless.  Although the majority of the 23-strong squad, who range in age from early 20s to mid-30s, do not have children, Katie Chapman is a mother of three.  She has talked frankly about struggling to balance her commitments to husband and sons with the demands of football.  Last week Casey Stoney, a long-serving defender, was awarded the MBE but her announcement, via twitter last year, that her partner Megan Harris had given birth to twins also served as a public declaration that she is gay.  The male game is infinitely more inhibited and old-fashioned and it still waiting for its first Stoney to come out.

The England players are enthusiastic users of social media and the FA is quietly optimistic this will eventually provoke a surge in individual commercial contracts.  But the marketing world is unlikely to take the game seriously until WSL crowds improve.  The season's average in the first division is 892 with only Manchester City breaking the 1000 barrier.  More encouragingly 46,000 turned up at Wembley in November to watch an England-Germany friendly.

A significant watershed was reached in the autumn when Steph Houghton became the first woman footballer to grace the cover of Shoot magazine, and the squad modelled for their first Panini sticker book.  The shift from niche to mainstream has been accelerated by leading Premiership clubs starting WSL-affiliated teams.  

The class of 2015 flew business class to Canada, have stayed in 5-star hotels and have a 19-strong support team which includes highly qualified medics, a psychologist, an exercise scientist and performance analysts.  "There's definitely a sense of responsibility", said Rafferty.  Down the years she has undergone three career-saving knee operations - the first one paid for by her parents but the next two funded by the FA.  Chapman is similarly grateful to Chelsea for a flexible approach to childcare, and Sampson has been equally sympathetic.

In a Montreal cafe Sampson waits to depart for Ottawa.  "We're in a good place.  We're confident we can beat anyone.  We want to win the World Cup".

Doing so really would put English women's football in a very good place.        

Louise Taylor - The Guardian 20-06-2015

Fara Williams:

« Last Edit: June 22, 2015, 09:32:36 PM by Alan »
Alltid. Uansett.

Offline davey

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Re: England ready for tonight's match
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2015, 09:34:19 AM »
Factually incorrect. 25th March, Liverpool v Sunderland, attendance 1014. 1st April, Sunderland v Man City, attendance 1433.

Offline Alan

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Germany 0 England 1
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2015, 09:19:25 AM »
Fara Williams scored the goal that gave England third place at the World Cup:
Final result: 1 USA, 2 Japan, 3 England, 4 Germany.
European teams: 1 England, 2 Germany, 3 France.
Olympic qualified; 1 Germany, 2 France, 3 Norway/Switzerland/Netherlands/Sweden (to be decided).

« Last Edit: July 06, 2015, 11:10:51 PM by Alan »
Alltid. Uansett.