England's new summer women's league, the FA WSL, launches on Wednesday and national coach Hope Powell tells UEFA.com she is anticipating a revolution in the game.
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On Wednesday night the English women's game undergoes a revolution with the first matches in the new eight-team FA WSL league.
The Football Association (FA) has made a €3.4m investment in the competition, which will feature professional players and is occupying a new summer slot. Also, a television deal has been done for the first time, with UEFA Women's Champions League semi-finalists Arsenal LFC's trip to Chelsea LFC being shown live.
Birmingham City LFC, Bristol Academy WFC, Doncaster Rovers Belles LFC, Everton, newcomers Lincoln LFC and Liverpool LFC make up the division, an initiative England manager Hope Powell has been closely associated with. "The male game in this country is obviously so big," Powell told UEFA.com. "
I think we just needed to find a slot where we could promote the game and get some air time.
"I think the fact that it will be in the summer will encourage people, hopefully, to come out and watch in the warmer weather. It gives us an opportunity, hopefully, to find some sponsorship during that period of time. There will be no male football to compete against."
Nationwide TV coverage is something that especially excites Powell, also the ambassador for next month's UEFA Women's Champions League final at Craven Cottage in London. "It will be phenomenal, it will really help raise the platform of our game," she said. "I think it will reach a wider audience than we've been able to do to date. I think if it's televised and the product is good and the games are a pleasure to watch, it just reaches another audience, and then we get people interested in women's football and it just raises the profile."
England winger Karen Carney and experienced midfielder Katie Chapman have both returned from the American Women's Professional Soccer set-up to rejoin old clubs Birmingham and Arsenal respectively. Powell believes the new league gives fresh opportunities to English players.
"There has been some investment, which allows clubs to employ some of the players full time in ambassadorial roles, to help promote the game and drive it forward," Powell said. "And if that's an opportunity that players can aspire to and achieve, it's a career pathway.
"We work with the [Professional Footballers' Association], so that we can encourage players to go on coaching courses and things like that. So I think the most important thing is that there are more opportunities now for females to be paid in the world of football, whether it's players, coaches, administrators. And that's got to be a good thing. "
One of the highest-profile players in the league is England and Arsenal captain Faye White, and the defender – set to be a key part of Powell's squad for the FIFA Women's World Cup this summer, fresh from their 2-1 defeat of the United States – cannot wait to get going. "It is a massive time for women's football," White said.
England have been improving and doing well on the world stage and in Europe. So now it's time for our domestic league to get a bit more profile and coverage, to show what that level is like. It's a great opportunity to do just that."