THE FA WOMEN’S SUPER LEAGUE RETURNS FOR SUMMER SEASON
The FA Women’s Super League (WSL) is back in action for the second half of the season after an exciting mid-season break for the FIFA 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany. There were some impressive performances by many of the league’s players representing the England Women’s senior team, who reached the Quarter Finals of the competition before going out on penalties to France, a match that was seen live by over three million viewers on BBC Two.
The FA’s Head of National Game, Kelly Simmons, believes the performances of the national side in Germany have helped raise the profile of the sport here in England and hopes that The FA WSL will benefit from the platform of a successful World Cup campaign to engage more fans with the sport.
“Germany was a fantastic experience for everyone and we at The FA are extremely proud of the squad and their efforts, let’s not forget they were two minutes away from a semi final and beat Japan, the eventual winners, in the group stages. The popularity of the sport is growing by the day and the fact that the Women’s World Cup Final was the most tweeted event in social media history really gives an insight into where we are right now with the game.
“What we need to do is build on that momentum and really keep those fans old and new engaged in our domestic league to help further raise the profile of women’s football here. We’ve had a fantastic start to the WSL with highly competitive matches, increased attendances, valuable media attention, a regularly televised product and pro-active sponsors, and it’s vital to push on now the break is over. We are all looking forward to kicking off the second half of the season this week.”
With the England squad now rejoining their WSL team mates on home turf, the focus is firmly fixed on competing for the inaugural WSL title as eight leading teams battle it out over the summer months.
The league resumes with an action packed weekend of matches and family entertainment, kicking off on 22 July with Bristol Academy v Lincoln LFC at Stoke Gifford Stadium (KO 7.15pm) where England stars such as Jess Clarke, Sophie Bradley, Casey Stoney and Siobhan Chamberlain will all be in action.
League leaders Birmingham City LFC will be determined to carry on where they left off before the break in their first fixture back against Doncaster Rover Belles LFC at Stratford Town on Saturday 23rd July 2011. This is followed by a match against Bristol Academy on 27th July, again at Stratford Town, in the first live game after the mid-season break, to be televised live on ESPN.
Everton LFC fans will welcome back a host of strong World Cup performers at their first game of the season against Chelsea LFC on Sunday 24th at 2pm at home ground, Marine Stadium. Among them will be Jill Scott, who was included in the FIFA’s All Star team following her powerful performance in Germany.
The Everton midfielder also became the star of the show on FATV’s YouTube channel, stacking up more than 25,000 views of her popular World Cup diary.
Scott is hoping her heroics, and her side's gutsy efforts in the recent Women's World Cup, will get more fans watching her Everton team's assault on the WSL.
"There was a lot of interest during the World Cup, and it was great that the quarter-final was shown on the BBC, and hopefully that will generate more interest because that is what we are really trying to do – get people speaking about women's football.
"I feel alright at the minute but after 120 minutes against France I was starting to tail off a little bit as it was hard work. But with the Super League season the way it is, we didn't feel that tired going into the World Cup because it's not a long season and you feel fresher.
“I’m glad my World Cup diaries were so popular, it was a fantastic experience out there and I really enjoyed showing a more personal side to the players. We were all really disappointed not to get further, and we know we can compete at the very top level having actually beaten the eventual winners, so that gives us great motivation. We had so much fantastic support both in Germany and at home; hopefully it has helped raise the awareness of women’s football in this country, and attracted new fans to the WSL.”
England’s goal scoring striker duo Rachel Yankey and Ellen White will also be in action this week in the remaining WSL fixture, as Arsenal Ladies take on Liverpool LFC at Borehamwood at 2pm on Sunday 24th August.
ESPN will continue to broadcast a weekly highlights show and a number of live games throughout the season, including The FA WSL Continental Cup Final in September, whilst a dedicated website, www.fawsl.com, and Facebook page www.facebook.com/wsl will keep fans up to date with the latest action and news from the league.