rounds up the women’s football news from January, a month in which the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala took centre stage.

International football
Stars and Stripes dominate
The FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2015 was undoubtedly the main highlight of the past four weeks, with reigning FIFA Women’s World Cup champions USA celebrating a double triumph. Captain Carli Lloyd was named FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year ahead of Celia Sasic and Aya Miyama, while her national team coach Jill Ellis became FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football.

Retirement beckons for Nadeshiko icons
Ayumi Kaihori became the third player from the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 final to hang up her boots after Japan’s Homare Sawa and American Abby Wambach, winners of the 2011 and 2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year respectively. The Japanese goalkeeper collected 53 international caps, became a world champion with the Nadeshiko in 2011 and won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but could not prevent her team from suffering a bitter defeat in last summer’s showdown against the USA.

New Zealand book their tickets to Jordan and Rio
The Kiwis underlined their supremacy in the OFC zone in impressive style this month. The young Football Ferns made light work of Oceanian qualifying for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016, winning all five of their matches and scoring 55 goals while conceding none. The country’s senior women also had reason to celebrate after emerging victorious from their play-offs with Papua New Guinea to secure their place at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016.

Club football
Championship final looms
FC Sydney and Melbourne City will contest the Australian W-League Grand Final this Sunday. Sydney defeated reigning champions Canberra United 1-0 in the semi-finals, while Melbourne eventually got the better of Brisbane Roar by winning 5-4 on penalties.

New adventure for Champions League winner
Last May Colin Bell won the UEFA Women’s Champions League with 1. FFC Frankfurt, an achievement that could have prompted many coaches to rest on their laurels for a while. Instead the Englishman opted to take on a fresh challenge by signing for Norwegian championship runners-up Avaldsnes at the start of the year. His task now is to transform this team representing a town of 3,000 people into one known across the footballing world. “I wanted this not only to be a sporting challenge, but a cultural one too in terms learning a new way of life and language," he told "The fact that Norway is a beautiful country and that women’s football is so high-profile and respected meant that everything came together when Avaldsnes came in for me.

The second edition of the FIFA Women’s Football and Leadership Conference will be held on 7 March 2016. This year’s event will focus on promoting equality through reform and will feature high-profile figures from the world of sport, politics and business such as world champion Abby Wambach and Sylvia Schenk. Through this annual international conference, FIFA is aiming to expand its support for women’s football while providing a much-needed platform for debate on advancing women’s roles in sport and society as a whole.

During the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship, the Cook Islands also hosted a FIFA Women’s Football Regional Development Seminar to bring together the CEOs and General Secretaries, technical directors and women’s football development officers from each of the Confederation’s 11 member associations. Ten years after FIFA and OFC organised the first seminar, delegates met in mid-January to assess the progress made and create a shared vision for the Confederation and Associations to follow.

The stat
33 – Earlier this month Carli Lloyd became the oldest outfield player to be named FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. At 33 years and 179 days, the USA’s hat-trick heroine in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 final dethroned Homare Sawa, who was 54 days younger when she collected the same accolade at the 2011 Gala. Retired Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer holds the overall record, having won the award at the age of 35.

The quote
"This award is a tremendous honour and naturally I’m very, very proud. What’s more important is that I get to share this title with the people who helped me to get it – ’s my players and staff."
USA coach Jill Ellis shares her delight with after being named FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football