In just a few short years after the ‘women in football furore’, Leeds United has evolved as the prominent, mixed gender team in the Premiership.
Leeds United now boasts 8 women as registered players in their 30 person first team squad.
The Football Association took a huge step forward in 2012 by allowing women to compete with men, unequivocally. For the first time in history, women and men competed in a major sport, on the same playing field.
Leeds United was quick off the mark in signing women players from Dynamo Kiev, Blackburn and Arsenal ladies and putting them straight into their first team. Olga Rankevich the Leeds goalkeeper was a former gymnastic star and Gold Medallist in the 2012 Olympics. So far this season she tops the Premiership table with the most clean sheets.
Experts and pundits have turned to science to find out why Brazilian born Gabrielle, the Arsenal striker, is the best penalty taker in the Premiership by a long shot.
Arsenal and Blackburn both have 5 players registered in their squad and are following the Leeds example. Other Premier League teams are sitting on the bench.
For years the media and the FA had used all kinds of clichéd arguments to prevent women ‘from playing with men’ but in the end a wave of egalitarianism swept through football and kicked over the goalposts.
Andrew Gravyless is still in hiding and rumoured to be in witness protection. Threats on his life were made by rogue elements from the organisation named F.O.U.L (Force Out Unfair Lunatics). His blog at http://www.agilovewomen.com/ still gets thousands of hits daily.
Leeds United, currently top in the premiership, is an entertaining, crowd pleasing spectacle. Years in the doldrums prepared them for the accolades and their new found success. Their fixtures fill stadiums all over the country and they have a waiting list miles long for season tickets. Their new found wealth and esteem has allowed them to move into a new state of the art stadium. This all weather stadium has a retractable ceiling and 40 digital cameras which feed video directly to the referee. This is the closest we’ve come to goal line technology thus far.
The New Manager
Leeds United is also looking for a new manager to take over from the successful endeavours of their current manager who has been promoted within the club.
Supporters and pundits favour Jose Mourinho who was recently sacked by Manchester United after a public spat in the media with his employers.
Women in football?
So far women have brought the game into the 21st century. In the beautiful game, women referees and officials are now routine. More families are enjoying football at home and also on the terraces. Some Clubs are finally able to balance their book due to increased and more diverse sponsorship and bigger gates at matches.
Groundswell of opportunity
Women have become proactive in the game and many clubs now also have women on their boards. The internet, TV and the media have played a part in the transformation of football. A change in ideology has seen these old boy networks hire more women journalist and broadcaster to promote and produce football programs and news.
The Gray/Keys incident in 2011 was a force for good after all.