12 Days of Football: Nine Ladies Playing
On the ninth day of football, FIFA gave to me nine ladies playing,
Welcome to the ninth day of football, in which we finally notice that women play the beautiful game, too. No one said we were quick on the uptick.
The USSF certainly was when USWNT star Megan Rapinoe knelt during the Star Spangled Banner before a series of matches while representing both club and country in 2016. She had done so to express solidarity with NFLer Colin Kaepernick. The erstwhile San Francisco 49ers quarterback had done the same to protest discriminatory treatment of black Americans by police. In early 2017, the federation passed an edict requiring all players representing national sides stand and respect the anthem and flag. Rapinoe complied with the new rule while publicly stating she still supported Kaepernick's actions.
Here are nine other footballers who put in notable shifts in 2017 while privately uttering thanks that Sepp Blatter wasn't around anymore to suggest they wear skirts.
Izzy Christiansen – Manchester City
The Macclesfield born midfielder is an interesting case. In and out of the England squad, she seemingly never did enough to impress Mark Sampson, who sparingly awarded her with international caps. Then the England boss was sacked for expressing sexist and racist views behind the scenes. With that bird flown, there’s opportunity in the air for Izzy under the new regime.
Isobel plays her club football for Manchester City, earning accolades. The 26-year-old has put her career into overdrive this season. She's top scorer in the Women's Super League with five goals in as many matches. Interim England manager Mo Marley has unsurprisingly capped Izzy several times as a result.
Ada Hegerbeger - Olympique Lyonnais
If goals were presents, then you’d want Ada to swing by on Christmas Eve. There would be no room under the tree. The Norwegian-born striker is another goal machine. Only 22, she's just won the treble with Lyon and has several other trophies from seasons past. Her 98 goals in 77 games for Les Bleues is the stuff of legend. It’s crazy to think on all she’s already accomplished. One has to wonder how much is yet to come?
Noelle Maritz – VfL Wolfsburg
With a name like that, Maritz ought to be playing as you read this, but the Frauen-Bundesliga is on its winter break. The league is thriving, though, with Wolfsburg at the forefront. It's a talented squad with plenty going forward, yet it's also very difficult to break down.
That’s where Maritz comes in. Also 22, the American-born Swiss international has won multiple Swiss and Bundesliga titles. She is the sole defender who has appeared in all 11 games this season for die Wolfinnen (She-wolves). With her minding the store, Stephan Lerch's team has conceded just six goals. Like the best defenders love to do, she's also popped up in the opposition box to score one for her side.
Lana Clelland – U.P.C. Tavagnacco
What do you call a Scottish woman playing football in North East Italy? Lana Clelland. Seriously, what did you think? People may not be shouting it from the Highlands (they ought), but Clelland could become the next big name in Scottish football.
She made the Rangers youth setup, but couldn't find glory in her homeland, only finishing as a runner-up with Spartans, an Edinburgh-based SWPL team. So she took to foreign lands. She has found her glory in Italy, but has had to do it on her own. Her Friuli-based side finished six, ball watching while Clelland claimed the Serie A Capocannoniere.
She’s working her magic again this season. Eleven goals in eight games from its taliswoman has powered Tavagnacco into third. Such incredible form has forced Shelley Kerr to select her for the Scottish national side. With Clelland leading the line, FIFA's 21st-ranked women's side might finally reach the World Cup.
Giulia Colini – Res Roma
In case you were wondering, the women's game features players who would never make Santa's nice list, just as men's football does. Giulia Colini is the John Terry, Roy Keane, and Eric Cantona of women's football, all rolled into one. She's played very little football this year. Why? Like the aforementioned men, she relishes a crunching tackle just a bit too much.
Fewer cards and a general lack of red ones are handed out in female leagues. Colini, in fact, is the only player in Europe to have been shown more than one. With the Serie A season just eight games old, she’s been banned for three after seeing straight read and then being dismissed for a second bookable offence. It’s difficult to say what has sparked her fiery side. She hasn't had a history of poor discipline in previous seasons. Equality is a wonderful ideal, but the Italian needn't take her career down the Joey Barton path just to prove a point.
Marta – Orlando Pride
The Brazilian is one of the most celebrated and revered female footballers the game has produced. Due to her large support and following, she's foregone her full name in true Selecao tradition. Having been recognised by FIFA several times as the greatest female footballer of all time, she's an icon to many women. With an outgoing personality, it's easy to see why she's often compared with Pele. The woman is lovable, internationally recognised, and very good at her job.
At 31, she’s Brazil's all-time scorer with 108 goals in 120 appearances. She is the third most capped player in Brazilian history, and leads among active players. Cristiane's 128 are within her reach, but catching Formiga is a big ask. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder, who retired from the national side in 2016, is on 159.
Marta spent six years, mid-career, in the illustrious Swedish league, claiming titles with both Tyreso and Rosengard. Now she's terrorizing defenses again in the United States. Thirteen goals in her first 24 games with Orlando has built on her already prodigious NWSL leagacy.
Tabitha Chawinga - Kvarnsveden
The jewel of African women’s football hails from Malawi, but plays in the ultra-competitive Damallsvenskan.. She’s already been anointed the best attacking player in the Swedish league by several sources. The division's most prolific sniper, 25 goals in 22 appearances make it easy to see why.
For all that, Kvarnsveden sits in the relegation zone. If they don't sign a defender or two, Chawinga will surely end up with a more ambitious club.
Danielle van den Donk – Arsenal
The midfielder heads a golden generation of Dutch women footballers. This year, l'Oranje won the Euros on home soil, cementing their reputation as a talented outfit. Van den Donk played every game and scored against England in the semi-final.
Her form has spilled over to her club career with Arsenal. She's providing the Gunners everything Arsene Wenger wishes he could get from Jack Wilshere. There's a consistent supply to Joe Montemurro's forwards and she's also prepared to take matters into her own hands. Having been directly involved with five goals in as many games, Arsenal has a good opportunity to score whenever DvD is on the pitch. With her pulling the strings, Arsenal has every chance to challenge for the WSL title.
And with stars like these, there's no reason you shouldn't enjoy the New Year by turning out for the local side in your women's league. It will be an afternoon well spent.