Katy Sandalls: So much to look forward to in women's football in 2019
PUBLISHED: 15:54 10 January 2019
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The winter break is over and it's time for our female football players to get back to the pitch, writes Katy Sandalls.
The winter break is over and it’s time to get back to it.
As the World Cup year dawns, women’s clubs across Suffolk and indeed the country are polishing up their boots and dusting off their shin pads after a few weeks away.
Unlike their male counterparts, women’s football doesn’t have a busy Christmas fixture period with many clubs finishing their final games in mid-December.
This has long been the case: women’s football in England used to be run with summer leagues that ran until November. Organisers hoped that this would make it appeal to football fans as there would be less of a clash with men’s games but this was changed in 2017.
Nevertheless the lack of fixtures over the festive period can be both a blessing and a curse to teams: a blessing in that it helps players to spend more time with their families and relieves some pressure on the majority who still have to work other jobs to be able to enjoy their sport.
As a curse an extended break can mean some teams – particularly in lower leagues – don’t see matches for weeks at a time. Something that can be detrimental in terms of fitness.
Winter can be especially tough in women’s football as clubs and their non-league male counterparts, with whom many share grounds, struggle to complete fixtures despite the help and dedication of staff due to extreme weather conditions and either flooded or frozen pitches.
It’s a struggle that leaves many fighting to pick up their missed games towards the end of the season.
Despite all this they fight on and we can only thank them for that and hope that things can get better.
But there is a light on the horizon, a huge glowing sun of excitement that I’ve already hinted at once or twice.
IT’S WORLD CUP YEAR!!!
We’ve had the draw since my last column and it looks to be a tough group for both England and Scotland. Mostly because they will have to play each other to make it through.
It’s not ideal for home nation supporters, but it should be a good clash, with Scotland perhaps feeling that they have something to prove after the two teams’ clash at Euro 2017.
Scotland captain Kim Little looks like she is getting there in terms of fitness, but no-one in the game wants to jinx that at this early stage.
Elsewhere, it’s been a busy start to the transfer window with some big names shuffling across the clubs.
Two of the biggest of which have been Nadia Nadim, who has moved from Manchester City to PSG, and Ann-Katrin Berger, who has gone from Birmingham to Chelsea.
Berger, in particular, will be a tough loss to take for Birmingham who have much to thank her for.
As I write this up news has just come out that Birmingham’s manager, Marc Skinner, has also got a transfer on his hands: to Orlando Pride in the NWSL where he will take up the manager’s role.
It’s going to be a tough time for the team but they’ve shown themselves to be resilient, and with the return of Ellen White they can rebuild.
Locally there also brought great success for one of our players of a very different type of football, or should that really say golf?
Ipswich Town Women’s Natalie Richardson placed third in the Footgolf World Cup. Footgolf really does what it says on the tin, combining the two sports. A fantastic achievement for Natalie which was built upon when she and her teammates from the UK team placed second overall.
With just over a week gone of 2019, it is East Bergholt’s women’s team who are topping the Suffolk Women’s Division with 36 points.
The club have won every game they’ve played this season and have a huge goal difference to show for it. They are six points clear of Needham Market FC women who sit in second, 11 points ahead of third placed Brantham Athletic FC Ladies.
Finally, have you decided to get fit with your New Year’s resolution? Chantry Grasshoppers Ladies are looking for new players to bolster their squad. Think you might fit the bill? Then get in touch with them!
Have you got a women’s footballing achievement that you’d like to share? Maybe you are looking to make some mid-seasons transfers of your own by bringing in some new players. Get in touch!
You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or you can tweet me @katysandalls.
Here’s to another year of great women’s football!