In our first review of the news and events in women’s football in 2010, FIFA.com looks back on a month in which some familiar names and the odd emerging star caught the eye.
WPS wheeling and dealing
As the WPS aims to build on the successes of its first season, its clubs have been busy adding more high-profile names to their star-studded rosters. For Marta’s Los Angeles Sol, that has meant recruiting Danish duo Julie Rydahl Bukh and Cathrine Paaske-Sorenson and the talented Czech Pavlina Scasna. Sol’s changes haven’t been confined to the pitch either, with Charlie Naimo last week appointed acting head coach as the club completes an ownership transition. However, while events in LA have inevitably caught the eye, the biggest WPS event of the past month was undoubtedly the league’s annual Draft. Tobin Heath was the top pick and heads to Atlanta Beat, while the Boston Breakers landed Olympic gold medalist Lauren Cheney as some of the game’s top young talent graduated to the professional arena.
Gunners gaining ground
Sunderland continue to lead the FA Women’s Premier League, but the Wearsiders’ lead is looking increasingly fragile after Arsenal closed the gap to just four points with a 2-1 win over Chelsea last weekend. Due to postponements enforced by UEFA Women’s EURO commitments last year, the Gunners still have six games in hand, while Everton – 13 points behind but with nine games in hand – will also be hopeful of mounting a late charge. Arsenal morale was certainly lifted a couple of weeks ago when they dumped Sunderland out of the FA Cup with a 4-1 win in which rising Scottish star Kim Little scored a hat-trick.
Mid-season boost for Turbine
The Frauen-Bundesliga may be in the midst of its winter break, but leaders Turbine Potsdam still contrived to continue their winning habit. The Brandenburg outfit, who top the table on goal difference, emerged triumphant for a third year in succession in the German Indoor Championship, which has become a traditional event. Turbine also found time to dip into the transfer market, signing Japan international Yuki Nagasato, while relegation-threatened SC Freiburg strengthened their squad with the addition of former Sky Blue duo Mele French and Kelly Parker.
Viewed in some quarters as potential dark horses for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, Japan reaffirmed their credentials earlier this week by claiming the Bicentennial Cup in Chile. Overcoming a formidable field of rivals that included the hosts, Denmark and Colombia, the Nadeshiko clinched the title on Monday with an emphatic 3-0 win over Argentina in which Manami Nakano, Kozue Ando and Asami Yamaguchi were all on target. For Norio Sasaki’s side, it represented the perfect morale-booster ahead of hosting the East Asian Championship next month, with the AFC Asian Cup to follow two months later in China.
Finns change coaches
A new era has begun in Finland with the appointment of Andree Jeglertz as successor to the long-serving Michael Kald. The Finns reached their first two major tournaments under Kald, who led them to the semi-finals of the UEFA European Women’s Championship in 2005 and then to the quarter-finals of the same tournament last summer. Jeglertz has a hard act to follow therefore, but the 37-year-old has already proved his ability in club football, guiding Umea to consecutive UEFA Women’s Cup titles and winning four Swedish titles in succession.
U-20 jigsaw takes shape
New Zealand became the ninth team to secure their place at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Germany 2010 with a dominant display at the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship. With 16-year-old Rosie White in sparkling form, the Junior Ferns won 8-0 against American Samoa and the Cook Islands before sealing qualification by putting 11 unanswered goals beyond Tonga in the deciding fixture. White, who managed nine goals in three appearances, walked away with the tournament’s Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards and reaffirmed her status as one of the female game’s rising stars. The next Germany 2010 participants will be decided later today, when Canada face Mexico and USA clash with Costa Rica in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship.
On the development front, FIFA has begun the new year as it ended the last one: on an extremely positive note. Included in the activity that took place last month were two consultancy missions in south-east Asia - first in Cambodia, then in Laos – which continued the good work of FIFA projects held in the region during 2009. Elsewhere, Namibia again found itself at the centre of FIFA’s focus as it hosted technical and refereeing courses, with participants from the women’s national league as well as the federation’s ‘Galz and Goals’ programme. FIFA will continue to support the promotion of girls’ football in Namibia with a special Grassroots programme during 2010.
"He is such a good man. I have known him for seven seasons and he has always treated me like a son. He treats everyone with such respect and everyone loves him for that. He's a big help for us here, and he truly deserves this award for what he has done here over the years, for what he has done for the Ladies team, and for the man he is,” Cesc Fabregas pays tribute to Vic Akers after the former Arsenal Ladies manager was awarded an OBE in the British Queen’s New Year’s honours list.