Tuesday, 4 December 2018

The 1st Female Ballon d'Or


Finally in 2018 the first ever female Ballon d'Or has been awarded. This award has been awarded every year since 1956 by France football for the men's game however this year it was finally introduced for the women's game. The France football award is selected by a select group of journalists with one representative per country. When voting there is 3 main criteria which is the individual & team performance throughout the year, fair play and the players career to date all very valued parts of the game.  

The inaugural winner for the women's Ballon d'Or was no other than Lyon and Norway's Ada Hegerberg. At just 23 year old Hegerberg is has always in my opinion been one of the stand out players of the game. Just watching her play for Lyon you can just immediately see what she brings to the team. A prominent goal scorer for the club she can also provide plenty in the build up of play and creating opportunities for other players. I was actually lucky enough to see her play back in April this year, when Lyon played Manchester City in the Champions league. Although that game ended 0-0 honestly the way Lyon played especially the likes of Hegerberg I am surprised there wasn't a couple of goals for Lyon, the way she plays she is determined to give 100% just like the rest of the Lyon. 

The way Lyon play it is no surprise that there were actually 7 members of the team nominated for the award, but Hegerberg stood out from the rest and came out on top. Not surprising really seen as at just 23 year old she has already won the Champions League 3 times (even more impressively these wins all came consecutively).  

Most nominees are regulars for their countries as well as clubs (some have picked up injuries but bounce back to the squad once fit), which makes it even more incredible that Hegerberg has won the award as she hasn't played internationally for Norway since 2017, she took a break due to a belief there was a lack of respect for the women playing football for the country. Since this break Norway now offer equal pay for the male and female footballers however, it is still unknown when Hegerberg will return to the Norway squad. With the 2019 world cup coming up and Norway having qualified (without Hegerberg on the field) it is a question of will she be a part of the biggest tournament or will she stick with her break. 

So here is how the results stood for the first ever female Ballon d'Or:

1. Ada Hegerberg (Lyon)
2. Perniller Harder (Wolfsburg / Denmark)
3. Dzsenifer Marozsán (Lyon / Germany)
4. Marta (Orlando Pride / Brazil)
5. Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars / Australia)
6. Lucy Bronze (Lyon / England)
7. Amandine Henry (Lyon / France)
8. Wendie Renard (Lyon / France)
9. Megan Rapinoe (Seattle reign / United States
10. Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns / United States)
11. Lieke Martens (Barcelona / Netherlands)
12. Saki Kumagai (Lyon / Japan)
13. Amel Majri (Lyon / France)
14. Fran Kirby (Chelsea / England)
15. Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns / Canada)

All these players on the list are well deserving of the nomination, I was expecting with it to have a few more American players on the list just to get it a little more noticed but I am glad the players that deserved it are well represented. Some players on the list to watch out for in the future are Sam Kerr, Lindsey Horan and Fran Kirby. 
Sam is doing so well at the Red Stars, I can't wait to see how she does in her 2nd season with the team, also it will be great to see how she performs with Australia at the world cup next year as due to Sam's striking ability and their connection as a team they are actually one of my underdog teams who I think will surprise a lot of people.
 Lindsey is a player who had a fantastic seasons with the Thorns scoring plenty of goals, being solid in midfield and creating plenty of opportunities for those around her, when she links with the likes of Emily Sonnett and Tobin Heath, not much can go wrong. Lindsey is another one I am hoping goes to the world cup as she really deserves the opportunity to prove the world class player she is becoming, plus her headers will be a huge help for the USWNT just as they have been for the Thorns. 
As for Fran, she is the best forward England have at the moment in my opinion, we just need to keep her injury free in the run up to the world cup. Fran has great technical ability and a brilliant goal scoring ability, she helps lead Chelsea to countless victories and always gives it 100%, she really is becoming a household name within the English game (she is one of the only ones my mum can remember), I may be a Man City fan but Fran is one of my favourites and I can't wait to see what she can do next year.

Some possible future candidates in my eyes are Tobin Heath, Steph Houghton and Kelley O'Hara. Yes I am aware that 2 out of 3 of these are American but they just have such a good team going on at the moment they are really hard to ignore especially with the world cup fast approaching. 

Tobin is a player who suffered her fair share of injuries throughout 2017, but she came back and helped the Thorns to a Championship title. She then had a brilliant 2018, leading the Thorns to another title and becoming a huge part of the USWNT over 2018, she has even been nominated for player of the year for the USWNT in 2018 which is well deserved. Lets just hope she stays injury free in 2019.
Steph Houghton is both captain of Manchester City & England and an absolutely solid defender. Steph gives 100% every game and is a crucial player in defence for both club and country, she really isn't afraid to put her body on the line. Not only is Steph brilliant in defence but her free kicks are brilliant along side her plays that come from set pieces, Steph can definitely provide her fair share of goals. Again as long as she can stay injury free for the world cup Steph surely has a guaranteed spot on the England world Cup Roster.    
Kelley O'Hara, striker for Stanford defender for the USWNT, over the years Kelley has been put in plenty of positions on the field but plays really well in them all. She provided a goal in the 2015 world cup against Germany (the flying squirrel as I still refer to it) which was a brilliant goal and helped the USWNT progress to the final, she also provides crucial tackles when required proving to be a brilliant all rounder. Kelley joined the Utah Royals last season and was playing so well until unfortunately injury hit and kept her out for a while however when she came back to both the Royals and the USWNT she slotted back in as though she had never picked up the injury. She has had ankle surgery in the off season so lets hope she stays fit ready for the 2019 world cup. 

These players could definitely be contenders next year if they can do well for both club and country. With the addition of the Ballon d'Or it really does raise the question of where is the women's game going to go next? Things are only getting better for the game and I am excited to see what the future holds as 2018 really has been a good year for the game. 

See you soon,
Lucy
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