Katy Sandalls: Here’s to 2019 and another year of great women’s football

England's Fran Kirby (left) celebrates with Lucy Bronze Picture: PA/ MIKE EGERTON

England's Fran Kirby (left) celebrates with Lucy Bronze Picture: PA/ MIKE EGERTON - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Katy Sandalls explores what 2018 has done to women’s football and why 2019 could be its best year yet.

After what was an incredible year for women’s football in 2017 it was difficult to see how 2018 could top it in terms of exposure, success and general growing of the game.

Good TV viewing figures and a fantastic finish for Euro 2017 had put the sport into unheard of territory.

And yet in many ways 2018 has built women’s football in this country to a level that hasn’t been seen. Growing promotion in both domestic league games and international fixtures has helped to put women’s football in the public eye like never before.

The qualification of both England and Scotland for the women’s World Cup have really lifted knowledge of the game and attracted new fans.

You may also want to watch:

Speaking of fan numbers has anyone checked out the attendance figures for Manchester United Women’s games this season? Mind boggling. All those in the club who doubted the success of such a team should be ashamed.

In Suffolk we’ve seen our local league grow and grow, with new teams springing up to take on the challenge while established teams continue to fly the flag.

Most Read

That’s not to say that it’s all been good news.

2018 has seen its fair share of issues for women’s football; controversy over the new league structures which battered some of the longest standing clubs in the game, the abuse of Chelsea’s Karen Carney on social media and the recent scandal over female footballer’s contracts.

The fact that top tier clubs can sack women’s players who have serious injuries for too long in 2018 is frankly appalling.

As a sign of the need for further change it was only on Monday night that we saw Ballon D’or winner Ada Hegerberg asked if she knows how to twerk as she collected her award. Change needs to come quickly.

At home we’ve seen teams struggle to stay afloat due to team availability and other factors.

It would be fair to say that much still needs to be done in the next few years to shore up the game both as a viable commercial entity and in terms of supporting players and clubs to continue playing the game they love.

But what should I be looking out for in 2019, I hear you cry?

Well its WOMEN’S WORLD CUP time in the summer.

Look out for lots of build-up in the run-up to that competition – see the latest Kings of Anglia magazine for a cheeky preview from myself – as well as the main event in France in July.

It’ll be a true test of Mr Neville to see if he can do as well as Gareth Southgate did with the men this year - both in terms of results and who can wear a waist coat better.

It’s going to be bigger than ever before and I can’t tell you how excited I am.

And when that’s all over we can start looking forward to Euro 2021! It might seem a way off but it’s worth keeping an eye on as we found out this week that it would definitely be heading to England!

A real coup for the English and British game to have such a prestigious competition coming back to home soil.

It’s a shame that there was no competition to the fantastic bid put in by the FA. It would have been great to see a proper fight for the tournament.

Nevertheless I am not going to complain at the chance of seeing world class football on my doorstep, as I am sure you will agree!

Sadly it will no longer be coming to my home city of Peterborough but there are still many stadiums within travelling distance of Suffolk that you will be able to make the most of it.

Back in Suffolk we have the County Cup Final to come next year where the best of our talent will be fighting it out for the top prize in our region.

If you haven’t had chance to go out and support our local teams then I’d recommend it as an easy New Year’s resolution which could really make a difference to Suffolk’s female footballers.

And there is indeed so much to come. So as we head to the end of 2018 faster than Vivianne Miedema’s scoring tally for Arsenal this season – NB that’s very quickly – I’d like to make my final thanks to all of you for joining me this year in getting to know about the women’s game.

Writing about a sport I feel so passionately about is a privilege every month.

Here’s to 2019 and another year of great football!

- Have you got a women’s football story that you would like to share in the new year? Perhaps you are looking for new players to join in or maybe you want to get fit and link up with your local club. Get in touch with me on email via katy.sandalls@archant.co.uk or on Twitter @katysandalls.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter