Women's round-up: October 2009

With Marta heading home for the maiden Copa Libertadores, Europe's best competing for Germany 2011 berths and the world's top club teams jostling for position, it has been another exciting and eventful month in women's football. As always, FIFA.com is on hand to wrap up all the main developments.

Club football
Wheeling and dealing
The league may be in its close season, but the action in Women's Professional Soccer in the USA has proved unrelenting thanks to a frenzy of transfer activity. Among the more notable moves have been Gold Pride's acquisition of Canadian Candace Chapman, and USA stars Heather Mitts and Leslie Osbourne's switches to Philadelphia Independence and Boston Breakers respectively. Sky Blue FC have also shown that they have no intentions of resting on their laurels with a high-profile double swoop for Netherlands captain Daphne Koster and Carli Lloyd, scorer of USA's winning goal at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament last year.

Marta lights up Libertadores
After finishing as top scorer and player of the year in her debut WPS season, Marta might have been entitled to take a month or two off. Instead, the reigning FIFA Women's World Player opted to take on a new tough challenge: endearing the female game to an erstwhile sceptical Brazilian public. How she did that was by moving on loan to Santos, taking on the No10 shirt immortalised by Pele, and leading the Sereias da Vila Belmiro (Vila Belmiro Mermaids) into the first-ever Women's Copa Libertadores. With Marta pulling the strings, Santos took this new continental competition by storm, scoring 43 goals in a memorable campaign that culminated in a 9-0 final win over Paraguay's Universidad Autonoma. Perhaps even more impressive, the team's crowning moment drew a crowd of over 14,000 to the Vila Belmiro, comfortably topping the average attendance of 9,387 for Santos's men's Brasileirao fixtures this season.

Duo's dominance challenged

Arsenal and 1. FFC Frankfurt have monopolised the English and German championships for the best part of a decade. Both, however, find themselves playing catch-up as their league campaigns develop, with Frankfurt facing an especially tough battle to hold on to their crown. The reigning Bundesliga champions, who currently lie fifth behind the likes of Bayern Munich, old rivals Turbine Potsdam and current leaders Duisburg, even felt compelled to sack their coach, Gunter Wegmann, two weeks ago in their desperation to bring about a change. However, Wegmann's successor and former assistant, Sven Kahlert, who has taken charge until the end of the season, endured the worst possible start, losing 3-2 to Duisburg in his first match in charge. In England, meanwhile, Arsenal are steadily climbing the table after a period of inactivity during the Women's EURO, but still lie five places behind impressive early leaders Leeds Carnegie.

Roar set the pace
In Australia, the W-League's second season has begun as its first ended - with Brisbane Roar on top. The reigning champions remain unbeaten after four matches of their title defence, and last season's leading markswoman Courtney Beutel is once again setting the goalscoring pace. With Matildas stars such as Collette McCallum and Lisa De Vanna having returned from their respective WPS clubs to boost the league's profile, the quality on show has been impressive as Australia's top female talent attempt to make this fledgling league a regular fixture.

National teams
Road to Germany continues
It has been a busy month of FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers in Europe, where most of the continent's big guns have made solid starts to their preliminary campaigns. The likes of Sweden, France, England and Norway all have maximum points thus far, although the Norwegians only just eked out a 1-0 win over Slovakia yesterday courtesy of an Alexandra Biroova own goal. Arguably the biggest shock thus far had come earlier yesterday afternoon, when Denmark - 15-0 winners over Georgia in their previous fixture - were held to a 0-0 draw by Bulgaria.

Giants collide in Augsburg
Tonight, Augsburg will become the centre of the women's football world as the little-known Bavarian city plays host to a titanic clash between Germany and USA. The two highest-ranked sides in the female game have monopolised the game's top honours over the years and, though this evening's match is merely a friendly, conclusions are sure to be drawn about the sides' prospects for next year's FIFA Women's World Cup. Can the US, Olympic gold medallists, humble the world and European champions in their own back yard? All will be revealed at the Impuls Arena.

Development
FIFA's development activities in women's football continue to touch all four corners of the globe, with initiatives in New Zealand, Jordan, Mexico, UAE, Bhutan, Barbados and several African nations over the months of September and October. After kicking off September with an intermediate level coaching course in Botswana and meetings in Lesotho and Malawi, it was on to Mexico for another coaching course that attracted representatives from 20 CONMEBOL and CONCACAF nations.

The activity only intensified in October, with yet more courses in Bhutan, Jordan - with Palestinian participants - UAE, Barbados and, finally, New Zealand, where a regional event attended by representatives of all ten OFC members continued the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup New Zealand 2008's Legacy Programme. This month also witnessed the launch in Namibia of 'Galz & Goals', a programme aimed at encouraging the development of girls between the ages of 11 and 15.

The quote
"I hope this momentum will not end here and that everything we have achieved will benefit the girls who play in Brazil. Football is for women too. I would love to see Santos's initiative inspiring other traditional clubs to support the women's game," Marta looks to the future after leading Santos to glory in the maiden Women's Copa Libertadores.