Transfer season is in full swing. The men’s side may not have seen any action yet but Arsenal Women’s Football Club has seen more arrivals and departures over the last few weeks. Midfielder Katie Chapman and defender Gill Flaherty have both joined Chelsea Ladies, while Arsenal have signed Ajax defender Anouk Hoogendijk, re-signed England captain Casey Stoney and committed Alex Scott to a new long-term contract.
Katie Chapman has been an integral part of the Arsenal side since she joined the club back in 2006, helping us to six league titles, five FA Cups and the 2007 UEFA Women’s Cup, and she will be sorely missed. As will Arsenal Centre of Excellence graduate Flaherty who made her Gunners’ debut also in 2006 at the very young age of 15. However Shelley Kerr has made significant additions to strengthen the Arsenal back-line with Hoogendijk, Stoney and also England keeper Siobhan Chamberlain. Arsenal conceded only 11 goals in the past WSL season, the lowest in the league, and will want to keep it up as they aim to get back the title they surrendered to Liverpool Ladies.
Anouk Hoogendijk is a Dutch international with 94 caps for her country, as well as WSL experience during her short stint with Bristol Academy in 2011, where she even played against Arsenal in the FA Cup final. She is an experienced and versatile defender who is also comfortable in central midfield. Stoney is equally experienced with 116 international caps to her name and successful spells with Arsenal (where she began her career in 1999), Charlton Athletic, Chelsea and Lincoln. She has lead the Three Lions since May 2012, and was given the honour of the armband for Team GB during the London Olympics, where she captained the side to victory over Brazil at Wembley.
In this scenario, the news that full-back Alex Scott has signed a long-term contract is also a welcome one. A product of the Arsenal Academy, she has been another crucial part of the club’s success throughout her Gunners’ career and it is a very encouraging sign for the new, upcoming campaign.
Another great piece of news is Rachel Yankey being awarded an OBE for services to the women’s game. The England international broke Peter Shilton’s record of 125 caps in June, helped Arsenal to an FA and Continental Cup double and guided them to the semi-finals of the Champions League. Off the field, she has been a tireless promoter of the game at the youth level. Yankey, who got the MBE in 2005, runs her own football programme, a community club and mentors young players.
“This very special award means a great deal to me, and I’m incredibly proud to have my work on and off the pitch recognised in this way … I have to say I owe Arsenal a great deal, for kickstarting my coaching and playing career. I started out as an Arsenal in the Community trainee, which is where my love of coaching and working with children began.”
Back in November, I mentioned Charlie’s Big Challenge – a great, upcoming fundraising campaign by UK charity Women’s Aid. TV presenter and Women’s Aid ambassador, Charlie Webster will be running a total of 250 miles over 7 consecutive days, visiting 40 major football clubs along her journey. The challenge will begin on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at Everton’s Goodison Park and finish on February 8, 2014 at West Ham United’s Boleyn Ground. She will be at the Emirates, approximately 222.5 miles into her journey on February 1, 2014 at around 8.55am (Day 7). You can see the full itinerary and route here.
This is a national fundraising event that is aimed at gaining massive awareness for protecting women and children against domestic violence. Charlie, who has twice run the London Marathon for Women’s Aid since 2010, is a football enthusiast herself, and wants to raise over £100,000 and spark off an even bigger campaign. Women’s Aid also aims to ‘project the message that football culture stands united against domestic violence, and hope that the event will unite fans, clubs, and players at all levels of the nation’s favourite game to help raise vital funds for the charity.’
Until next time, Gooners. Keep the faith!
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.