Director of women's professional game Kelly Simmons is ready for a positive weekend

Friday 13 Nov 2020
Kelly Simmons is our director of women's professional game

I write this a couple of days before our second ever Women’s Football Weekend, and I do so with a feeling of great excitement, coupled with a tinge of sadness.

Women’s Football Weekend launched last season and was very much about shining a spotlight on our sport. The opportunity to showcase the very best of what women’s football has to offer in England – world class players, home grown talent and a product rich in quality.

But it was also about growing interest in our sport, seeing passionate and dedicated fans cheering on their favourite team and players, whilst also attracting new ones and introducing them to everything that is great about our game.

This year, we're unable to welcome spectators, and nothing fills me with more disappointment and sadness than knowing our stands will be empty this weekend. I’m not just an FA employee, I am a fan, and one of the best things about being a fan is sharing that euphoria you feel at a match and that opportunity to share the highs and lows for 90 minutes.

Fans are the heartbeat of our sport, and that couldn’t have been more evident than the inaugural Women’s Football Weekend last year, which attracted over 75,000 fans across the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship.

I know this season has been tough for fans, and we can’t wait to welcome you back when we're in a position to do so. Because we want to ensure you stay safe, we have done everything we can to bring the action to you.

For the first time, every Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixture will be staggered over the weekend. So you won’t have to choose which fixture to watch, because there will be no clashes.

So if you want to sit on your sofa from 12.30pm on Saturday for the Manchester derby until the final whistle of the Arsenal v Chelsea London derby on Sunday, without missing a minute, you can. That’s 540 minutes of live football.

I’d like to welcome our overseas fans along for the weekend as well. Whether watching through The FA Player or one of our international broadcast partners, we expect this to be the most watched weekend of Barclays FA WSL football since we launched the league in 2011.

This season, we wanted to make sure that the FA Women’s Championship was also accessible, especially with such a fascinating title race currently taking place. So for fans of our clubs in the second-tier, every match will be available on The FA Player. I must commend our clubs in the Championship for the work they have done to make this happen, as a number of them are hosting the streams that will be shared through The FA Player.

After a tough week for the FA, I genuinely hope Women’s Football Weekend highlights the brilliant work and hours put in by my colleagues and by the clubs to make it happen. Our aim is to have the best professional women’s sports leagues in the world and I truly believe this weekend will showcase some of the very best players the game has to offer, alongside the brilliant homegrown players developed on home soil.

I do want to also acknowledge our players and clubs further down the pyramid. They too should be part of what makes Women’s Football Weekend special, but as we enter the second week of a national lockdown, the priority right now is to keep everyone safe and hope that they will be back on the field in a few weeks’ time.

We continue to work hard to ensure our game improves at every level, despite the difficult conditions we currently operate under. This weekend is about recognising the players that take to the field, the players that will hopefully be back soon, and you, the fans, who make our sport what it is.

By Kelly Simmons FA director of women’s professional game