The elite of women’s football received global recognition, major international stars were on the move, while USA added more silverware to an already bulging trophy cabinet. FIFA.com reflects on all this and more in reviewing another fascinating month in women’s football.
Club Football *Marta signing boosts WPS debutants
*The newest Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) team, Western New York Flash, secured a major coup with the signing of five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Marta. The Brazilian superstar, who has won the WPS golden boot in both seasons of the league’s short existence, linked up with the club after former club FC Gold Pride withdrew for the upcoming season. The 2011 edition of the six-team competition will commence in April.
*German starlet on the move
*Marta was not the only major signing over the last month, with German prodigy Kim Kulig set to make the shift from Bundesliga outfit Hamburger SV to powerhouse club 1. FFC Frankfurt this summer. The 20-year-old defensive midfielder, who was a driving force for Germany in their FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup triumph on home soil last year, is expected to be a starter in Silvia Neid's line-up at Germany 2011.
*Sky Blues crowned again
*Sydney FC have secured the Australian W-League Premiership by finishing the regular league season three points clear of nearest rivals Brisbane Roar. The Sydneysiders were by far the top-scoring team, with youngster Kyah Simon well clear at the top of the league’s goalscoring chart. The Sky Blues now progress to the four-team finals series alongside the Roar, Canberra United and Melbourne Victory.
International Football *Female elite recognised
*Brazil’s Marta continued her record streak of success by claiming a fifth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala in Zurich earlier this month. The WPS player of the season was a clear winner ahead of Germany duo Birgit Prinz and Fatmire Bajramaj. German national team coach Silvia Neid claimed the inaugural FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football in front of Germany U-20 coach Maren Meinert and USA’s Pia Sundhage. Finally, the FIFA Fair Play Award was given to the Haiti U-17 women’s team, who, despite a devastating earthquake in their homeland, managed to reach the final round of the CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
*Further honours for USA
*USA won the 2011 Four Nations Tournament in China for the seventh time despite suffering a 2-1 loss to Sweden in their opening match. The Stars and Stripes won their final outing 2-0 against China to finish ahead of North American rivals Canada on the teams' head-to-head record, with the hosts in third. Carli Lloyd and Amy Rodriguez scored the all-important goals in the final match, while Nicole Barnhart - who continues to deputise for the injured Hope Solo - was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper.
*Development *January was highlighted by a coaching course in the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis in what was an unusually quiet period in FIFA development news over the Christmas/New Year period. Earlier in December, a development course took place in Serbia, while a Consultancy Mission was sent to Paraguay.
*The stat 352 *– The number of caps accrued by the legendary Kristine Lilly, with the USA midfielder announcing her retirement early in January at the age of 39. Not only is the appearances tally a record in men’s and women’s football, Lilly also scored 130 internationals goals and figured in all five editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™.
The quote *"Kim (Kulig) belongs to the players in Germany who impress thanks to her footballing quality, but also thanks to her charisma and her self-confidence. She is a symbol of the new generation of women's football in Germany", *1. FFC Frankfurt athletic director Siggi Dietrich.
Click on the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 link on the right for all the latest news and exclusive interviews ahead of the upcoming women’s football showpiece. During the last month there have been exclusive interviews with Germany coach Silvia Neid, Brazil forward Marta, USA icon Mia Hamm, New Zealand coach John Herdman, and Nigerian youngster Ebere Orji to name just a few.