Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Moving with the times...

...Scotland are planning ahead for future success.

It's refreshing to hear the Scottish government are investing £200,000 into the Scottish national women's football team. The reason for this injection of money is to assist with their chances of success in the 2015 World Cup qualification campaign. With the exception of more experienced players like Arsenal's Kim Little, currently most of the players in the senior team work/study full time, whilst partaking in 15-20 hours of football training a week. The funding will help ease financial strains for these players, allowing them more of a chance to focus on football training and also include more time for recovery.

Scotland women have never reached a major championship, the furthest they've gone is European Championship play-off stages. Head coach Anna Signeul has spent 8 years trying to help develop the women's national team, starting out with a successful few years as U-18's manager and working her way up to the senior squad. Her hard efforts have not gone unnoticed with a recent nomination for the Ballon D'or 2013  'FIFA World Coach Of The Year' award. She goes up against fellow strong nominees such as German head coach Silvia Neid and Arsenal Ladies' Shelley Kerr.

Scotland are currently 2nd in their qualifying group for the 2015 World cup and it's safe to say that they are taking this campaign very seriously. As for women's football in Scotland, here's a very interesting article I read recently by Andy Muirhead. He covers the reasons Scottish women's football has struggled to ever get the support it deserves in comparison to England and other "bigger nations". He goes on to comment on the minimal media coverage, lack of Scottish FA support and also suggests some worthy points regarding the future promotion and development.

Overall, what the Scottish government are doing is progress at least and it shows that they are beginning to make positive changes for the future generations to come.

Women's football needs YOU!

I wrote this article last week for The Football Blogging Awards page:

"I've recently started blogging about women's football, mainly general news articles and sexism issues within the sport. I try to cover stories about female players, officials, supporters and media personnel and in this time I've learnt a lot about the women's side of the game. What's becoming more and more apparent though are the changes within the sport. The gradual improvement and awareness it's finally gaining. For years now, women's football has been regarded as a joke in comparison to men's. Football forums, newspaper articles and TV programmes have all shown to narrow mindedness we unfortunately face from the British public.
But times are changing; women and men are both speaking out in favour of more women's football, from grassroots players to well-known celebrities and professional players. In recent years, we've seen England's national women's side remain one of the top FIFA ranked teams in the world. The FA has started boosting opportunities at grassroots levels by encouraging more females to get involved in the game. They've made more of an effort to promote playing opportunities, centre of excellences, free coaching courses and much more. BT Sport recently played its part by televising the FA Women's Super League this summer and the BBC covered the recent European championships from Sweden in July. BBC now have a weekly women's football show and Sky Sports have a weekly 'Sportswomen' programme, the only negative is that these are late time slots, but nevertheless it is progress.

Female broadcasters Gabby Logan, Jacqui Oatley and Charlotte Green are all becoming household names in the media world and great ambassadors for the future development of women involved in football. Helen Grant, newly appointed sports minister, has spoken out against the FA's new commission board not including a female representative in the news this week. Controversial stories regarding sexism by famous TV presenters, journalist, football board members and others associated with the game, are now becoming more apparent. No longer are women taking the back seat and letting gender stereotypes take control of their passion for football.
An average women's football match ticket for premier teams or even the national team, costs £5/£2.50. It's pennies in comparison to the male equivalent, which is why women's football needs more support from the public. TV and newspaper companies will only cover the sport if there is more participation and demand; it's an unfortunate but true fact. I urge any of you reading this to ignore the old “girls can't play football” taboo and go visit your nearest team play.  Women's football has come a long way in the last decade and it still has a long way to go and it needs your help!"

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Sexist, selfish or just plain ignorant?...

...Why does the media not cover women's sport?

The main issue is that the public are influenced by the media and if the media aren't willing to expand their coverage of women's sports, there will constantly be a lack of funding and interest. My main focus is on women's football, as football is the world's most popular sport.

It is a well known fact that women's football gets less support from the grassroots level of coaching and playing the game, up to the the professional levels in terms of being paid less and receiving less publicity than their male counterparts. 

Role models play a key role in the future of the sport, players/coaches/journalists/officials can all influence young girls who aspire to get involved, but they need the media's help to boost the profile of the women's game. Too often we are reminded in magazines and on television that sport/exercise helps us get leaner thighs, flatter abs and makes us more attractive. The emphasis needs to focus on the enjoyment of sport, the teamwork side and the general health benefits you can receive by participating.

On a similar level, from a young age, children are pushed in the direction of gender stereotypes. Boys are naturally associated with playing football and computer games. Whereas girls are expected to play 'mum' to a stuffed doll and paint their nails a pretty shade of pink. I'm not saying this is the case for all children, but it's certainly a common misconception. I recall being at high school and a group of us pushed for a girls football team to be created. We had spent the previous 3 years at middle school playing netball/hockey/rounders/athletics, whilst the boys played rugby/football/athletics. It was only because we persistently forced the issue, that an English teacher stepped forward to volunteer run the team. As far as I'm aware, that high school has since always had a girls football team (10 years later on).

From that young age, I only knew of Mia Hamm and Kelly Smith in the world of women's football and I was desperate to play for England women's team. I knew nothing about how to get into playing football for a team or even how to watch it on TV. It's this sort of experience that many girls across the country, even the world, find themselves having. It's only now that the grassroots side of the game is improving, with The FA pushing more campaigns to boost female players and coaches.

But as for TV, magazines, newspapers and the internet, more needs to be done. The same old excuse always arises, there's not enough funding for women's football coverage. That's because there's not enough being done to highlight the game, for example look at the recent FAWSL and Euro championships, very little was done to promote these events. The FA and BBC are covering more matches and news stories, but other media groups need to be doing the same if football is to ever move forward out of it's sexist, male-dominated representation. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Women who fought to play football...

...The Honeyballers.

Story courtesy of BBC News:
BBC iPlayer link:

The British Ladies FC captain Mary Hutson (aka Nettie Honeyball), was the inspiration for BBC Alba's documentary. It still comes as a surprise that after 100 years, there is still the same attitude towards football being a "men's only" game.

It was during the First World War that women were needed to take on the traditional male roles in the workplace and this also extended into leisure activities, resulting in women's football teams being formed. After a ban on the women's game in 1921, determination from teams in England and Scotland saw games take place in records dating to 1943. The ban was lifted in the 1970's, but it's only up until the last decade that the game has started to get the recognition it deserves.

Nettie Honeyball (captain and founder of the British Ladies FC in 1985)