Katy Sandalls: The game as we know it has changed dramatically

The Ipswich Valley Rangers Girls U13 side who have had a fantastic season Picture: DARREN SCOULDING

The Ipswich Valley Rangers Girls U13 side who have had a fantastic season Picture: DARREN SCOULDING - Credit: Archant

In a month that has truly rocked the world of women’s football, Katy Sandalls looks at how teams across the county and country are changing.

Stowupland Falcons U15 side who won the treble this season Picture: RICHARD SHEPHERD

Stowupland Falcons U15 side who won the treble this season Picture: RICHARD SHEPHERD - Credit: Archant

It seems as though few sports are changing as much and with such vigour as women’s football.

In the past month we have had some of the biggest names in the English game retire and a complete league restructure.

It’s absolutely mad.

To spare you all the details, the second tier has a new name and some new faces joining its ranks – including a certain Manchester United.

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After years of criticism and begging from many fans, United have finally opened their doors to the senior women’s game, having already got a youth structure up to the age of 16.

The changes are exciting and supposed to take the game to a new level but they have left many teams in the lurch including Oxford, Watford and, most notably, Sunderland, who are appealing their lack of placing in the top two tiers.

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For a side that has produced many of England’s top talent such as Steph Houghton, Jordan Knobbs, Lucy Bronze and Carly Telford, it’s a real shame to see Sunderland struggle.

Investment problems and what some are terming a ‘divorce’ from their male counterparts has made life tough for the Lady Black Cats. Still it’s promising to see them stand up for themselves and make an appeal. Whether it will be accepted is another question altogether.

It speaks to a wider problem in the game, what should come first – investment or achievement?

Should we push forward the teams who have the financial ability to help the game and will invest more than others, or those who have helped the game by playing well and creating talent?

It’s a debate that many fans and pundits struggle with on a daily basis and one which isn’t likely to be resolved soon, especially for sides like Doncaster Rovers Belles

The Belles lost out again in the most recent league shake-up and will not be promoted – despite winning the league – because of the new commitments needed by the FA for Super League teams.

For a team that were moved to the second tier in favour of Manchester City, it was a further kick in the foot.

Away from the league, England set back out on the road this week as they move closer to securing their 2019 Women’s World Cup spot with a game against Russia in Moscow.

In their last meeting England won 6-0 so it should be another goalfest come Saturday night.

Back at home in Suffolk, new women’s teams are springing up all over the county.

The teams need your support as they bolster their squads over the summer, so if you’ve been putting off getting involved in the beautiful game then this may be your chance.

Needham Market Ladies are one of those sides who have got in touch and are hoping to secure some new players for next season.

They have trials on the 7th, 14th and 21st June at their new 3G pitch.

Also on the lookout are Chantry Grasshoppers Ladies, who are appealing for players of all abilities to get involved in their new squad.

Both sides have established men’s and youth teams so it’s good to see the clubs branching out into the women’s game.

Please get in touch with the clubs if you are looking for a new team or just want to find out more.

But it’s not just about the adults as some of our female youth teams have just come to the end of fantastic seasons and deserve this month’s shout-outs.

The Ipswich Valley Rangers Girls U13 side have completed a treble this year winning their league, the county cup and a knock out cup as well.

Manager Darren Scoulding said his side had knitted together well and have made it difficult for themselves to improve next season after such a great year, with other local sides marking them as the team to beat.

Excellent work girls, keep it up!

Not to be outdone the second shout-out goes to the Stowupland Falcons Girls U15 side, who also did the treble this season.

Manager Gavin Johnson said that his team had worked hard over the years, noting that in their first season together they had lost every game.

Going from that to where they are now shows their level of determination. Gavin says that the club are hoping to prove themselves nationally next year by taking on some of the country’s best sides and I wish them all the best.

A big thanks to both teams for getting in touch to share their successes: it’s what I love to hear about.

If you have news about your local side that you would like to share then please do get in touch. E-mail katy.sandalls@archant.co.uk or tweet me @katysandalls.

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