Stars from FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) clubs gathered at St. George’s Park today as they geared up for their season openers.
Players and coaches from the 19 FA WSL clubs came to Staffordshire to celebrate the start of the new season, which begins next week.
Both divisions’ first fixtures take place on Wednesday 23 March with FA WSL 2 title winners Reading travelling to two-time champions Arsenal for their curtain-raiser.
Last season’s runners-up Manchester City will host Notts County, while Liverpool will face Birmingham City.
“This is a pivotal year for The FA WSL”
The FA's Kelly Simmons
The following day, Chelsea, last season’s champions, will take on top-division newcomers Doncaster Rovers Belles at the Keepmoat Stadium, with the game live on BT Sport 1 from 7.15pm.
In FA WSL 2, promoted Sheffield FC will host Durham on Wednesday 23 March. Newly-named Bristol City, who were relegated from FA WSL 1, welcome Yeovil while London Bees host Watford. The next day [Thursday 24 March] Everton will play Aston Villa and Millwall Lionesses will travel to Oxford United.
Pupils from William Shrewsbury Primary School in Shrewsbury joined the players at the launch, taking to the indoor pitch at St. George’s Park.
England and Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs said: “I can't wait for this season to get started now.
“We've had a really good pre-season, especially with our trip to Spain and along with some of the new signings we have made, everyone is getting used to playing together and there seems to be a great spirit already amongst the team.
“A number of our competitors have also made some great signings and so it will be hard to predict who will fare well this season, as each year the competitiveness of the league continues to grow.
“At the end of last season there was a fantastic response after the Women's World Cup and so we hope that fans come out in their masses to support the league again this season."
FA director of football participation and development Kelly Simmons said: “This is a pivotal year for The FA WSL as we look to build on the great momentum, awareness and attendances that the league generated in 2015.
“A strong FA WSL will really lay the foundations for success elsewhere in the women’s game – from a winning England team to inspiring more girls and women to take up playing football at any level.
“There has been a real excitement in the room today about the new season and I know the players can’t wait to get started. I’m sure that this season will bring more of the exciting, entertaining and quality football that our supporters have come to expect.”
BT Sport is the lead sponsor and broadcast partner of The FA WSL, and one of five women’s football commercial partners along with Continental Tyres, Nike, SSE and Vauxhall.
Full match and ticket information can be found at www.FAWSL.com.