Thursday, May 20, 2010

Did You Know? Tradition Will Be Broken

I made the trip last week to jolly ol' London to meet with the coordinator of women's leagues for The FA so today's blog is all British... you a'riight?

Did You Know? The Super League will be breaking a 150 year tradition. Since the beginning of the FA, which is always called THE FA, not the British FA, a perfect example of the organization’s long history, there was a ban on playing competitive soccer in June. Until now. The new league in England, called The Super League, a closed (no relegation/promotion) 8-team league will run through the summer, including this hallowed vacation month of June. It’s a perfect example of how women’s soccer may have a history filled with fits and starts versus a rich ongoing evolving tradition of men’s soccer, but its that “lack” of history which lends women’s soccer the opportunity to break new ground. And in a country filled with soccer controversy, almost no scandal when changing these rules.

...Of all the games, in all the clubs, I walked into the right one. I only discovered that morning when talking with Tessa Hayward, the coordinator of all women’s leagues within The FA structure (which is all of them), she casually mentioned the Arsenal Ladies would be playing their one match a year at Emirates Stadium that very night. Needless to say I was surprised as I was planning on the long trip up to Borehamwood, their normal grounds and very far into the suburbs. Instead I took a quick hop on the London Underground and headed to one of the most famous stadiums in the world....

Did you Know? There will be a second women’s soccer specific stadium. Well, to be honest, I hope you do since I mentioned it earlier. The Bristol Academy, ironically in a relegated status in this season’s women’s English Premier League, will build the world’s second women’s soccer specific stadium planned for the inaugural season of The Super League. Interestingly, this unique club would not be possible in the United States. Its akin to an American universities’ varsity team, and now the university will have its own stadium, much like every major Division I college. But its players could be paid, or not attend the university, and play within a private club system not the BUSC. It’s a unique setup, something apparently common in South African cricket, which sadly could never be attempted in the United States because much like The FA, the NCAA is a monstrous organization steeped in tradition.

...For only 3 pounds, I sat 13 rows up from the pitch at the center of the field. Despite having only around 3,500 people attending, you could imagine what this stadium must feel like when at capacity with singing, chanting Arsenal fans. A bit about the game, if they want the Super League to have a high level of play, they need to get their Brits from abroad back. With a few established national teamers plus a few up-and-comers, Arsenal had flashes of brilliance and clearly showed how far English women’s soccer has come, but it definitely lacked consistency and there were moments I wondered, this is really the most dominant team in England?...

Did You Know? Each team must be listed as a separate legal entity even if within the structure of a men’s club. Why does this seemingly insignificant detail matter so much? As you may remember in my previous blog post, I talked about the demise of teams like Fulham or Charlton Athletic. When I spoke last week with the coordinator of women’s leagues at The FA, she was certainly surprised I could list these doomed clubs of the past. But its clear from this structure they are very aware of their own history. By creating subsidiaries, legally separate from the men's clubs, The FA can easily tract where the money is being spent, and for the first two years, much of it will be The FA's money, making it all the more important. It gives transparency and accountability, as well makes it easier to track growth. An important point for a league who's goal is sustainability and development of the domestic game. A very, very smart move from the same FA who can't seem to keep their higher ups.

...I couldn’t help but overhear my fellow spectators while I watched Arsenal play Leeds Carnegie. The young professionals behind me lived nearby, the woman was a big Arsenal fan and could name some of the players. But she only attends this game because “there’s no way I would go all the way to Borehamwood.” The classic “Dads and daughters” type fans sat in front, but they also dragged the young brothers who clearly spent the entire time annoying their sister and not watching the match. The foreign couple beside admitted to me they had never seen women’s soccer before but were excited to be in the famous Emirates Stadium for only 3 pounds. And a few rows more, you could hear the small but vocal supporters (as the rest of the crowd was almost entirely silent) who actually supported Arsenal Ladies year round. Their motivations were as differing as the pace of play on the pitch....

Out of Bounds: 1/3 of tickets have been sold for the 2011 WWC. 26,282 people attended the Bundesliga Cup final, breaking a European record. The Women’s Champions League final is sold out. 17,505 watched the overtime drama of the The FA Cup Final despite their best British players plying their trade in the WPS. The last two attendance numbers for the US Women’s national team game: 3k and change? Instead of asking is the future of football feminine, maybe we should be asking is the future of the feminine game football, not soccer?

Must Read Articles: Sorry I’m lacking, more trips means less women’s soccer internet surfing.

United Arab Emirates women’s soccer

Monday, May 3, 2010

Did You Know? There is No Perfect Model in Europe

If there were a perfect model, the end all and be all, of a women’s soccer club, then there would never be fears of over-spending or getting cut off by the “big brother” club. But maybe, maybe there are lessons to be learned from how it has been done before. A “Choose Your Own Adventure” of the professionalization of women’s soccer clubs.

I want to admit one shortcoming in this blog. I think a global look would be better, but look at how long this blog post is already. I am incredibly interested in leagues around the world, in particular, the leagues in Japan and Australia.

“Big European Club Ladies Side”

Did You Know? There was an article in the April edition of FIFA World concerning this exact subject. Using examples of Olympique Lyonnais, AZ Alkmaar (The Netherlands, if you were wondering), and Arsenal, they argued integration is the way of the future. Its true, this article confirms what I have found in my research. Going to the Olympique Lyon game, they have equipment, capabilities, etc. that would never be financially possible in the WPS. Kelly Simmons of the FA, said of Arsenal, “Arsenal Ladies are perhaps the prime example in England of a very successful integration programme between the men and the women, with ideas being exchanged even among the coaching staff.”

The positives of linking to a powerful men’s club: You need less admin staff, utilize world-class facilities, team linked to a successful brand, funding not based on sponsorship or ticket sales.

But Did You Know? There has also been a long history of clubs who depended on their men’s side to provide for them and subsequently folded or fallen into obscurity of their nation’s lower divisions. Something, they don’t mention in the FIFA article, Fulham, Charlton Athletic, and Chelsea. Possibly Fulham is a familiar name to American fans as the home of Clint “The Deuce” Dempsey. Back in 2000, they touted a fully professional women’s side, 6 years later a new owner and some struggles on the men’s pitch, the team now resides at the bottom of the 2nd division (South). Another example is Eniola Aluko’s former club, Charlton Athletic. When the men were relegated, the women’s team was gone. It was a financial decision, the millions of pounds gone in being relegated due to lost TV revenue, they saw the women’s squad as an expendable cost. Then there is Chelsea, a club with money coming out of its ears, but also spends even more on players for their men’s side. At one point, it was John Terry who rescued the team by donating money. Insert over-used joke about Terry and women. Interestingly, despite these examples all within England, Kelly Simmons, from the FA was quoted as saying, “We are currently working on the new women’s Super League in England which will concentrate on clubs working either with the professional football sector or with the universities, but we have always said the support of the men’s clubs will be key.”

The negatives of linking to a powerful men’s club: The budget is tied to someone else’s success or failure. In tough economic times, clubs can see the women’s squad as an easy way to cut costs. When leadership changes, they may view women’s soccer very differently than the previous ones.

So what is the natural progression… take things into your own hands!

"FFC We Like To Run The Show"

Did You Know? The top 3 clubs of the FrauenBundesliga are women-only clubs, which according to 2009/2010 UEFA rankings is the most successful league in Europe. Being a stand-alone club gives the club a freedom to get sponsorship tailored to them or a company wanting to market specifically to women like Tesco with the WEPL or 3F in The Netherlands. Likewise, an example of LdB FC Malmo's marketing clip, it gives them the flexibility to create a unique marketing campaign, as well as a focus on the team. Similarly, the team can create its own strategy for development and actively pursue it as they see fit, such as the youth development programs or merchandising of 1. FFC Potsdam. Similarly, it is no surprise both 1.FFC Potsdam and 1.FFC Frankfurt both use the 1. which in Germany indicates the first team. Because they are the first team.

The positives for a stand-alone team: Freedom to find sponsorship tailored to their fan-base and mission, flexibility to create strategy they deem most helpful for the goals of the team, complete focus of administration and fans on the women’s team.

Perfect, so now we have our answer, let’s go it alone!

Did You Know? Umea IK in January 2010 publicly admitted in 2009 they had been on the verge of financial collapse after 40 years of existence. Translate this article and it sounds oddly like Portsmouth of the men’s EPL. It is no surprise some clubs are growing and others are struggling, this is common in men’s soccer as well. The biggest difference, unlike clubs like Leicester City who went into administration (bankruptcy, basically) in 2003, and now are in the playoffs for promotion to the Premier League, these clubs will simply disappear or take such a far step back they are nothing more than rec teams. For example, for the 3 German clubs at the top, it wasn’t far in the past (“The Future of Football is Female!?” Gertude Pfitser) numerous teams have withdrawn due to lack of financial backing and since the economic crisis more than one Swedish strains under the weight of the economic crisis. A league can’t play with only 3 teams. As women’s football in Europe exponentially develops, these teams struggle to keep their players or cover growing expenses in small or crowded markets.

What does this all conclude? This is an exciting time in European women’s football, with many more questions than answers.

Out of Bounds:

1) Are countries bidding for women’s football events to prove they can host men’s events? Has living with unabashed anti-women’s football people day in and day out maybe me incredibly cynical?

2) Also, in the UEFA Direct it was stated you can win a pair of tickets (10 chances) to the men’s final at the women’s final on May 20th. Will just this fact increase attendance? What are your thoughts on this?

Must Read Articles:

- Interesting and strikingly honest reponse to the CAS decision in February concerning the Olympique Lyon case. Fortuna Hjørring’s Response

- Read Joanna Lohman’s blog on her trip to Japan. A few months old, but worth it.

- Atlanta is no longer unique: Read about Bristol Academy’s plans for a women’s soccer stadium in The Guardian.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Did You Know? European Women's Football: Olympique Lyonnais

Despite strikes on the French railway system, I managed to get to the Olympique Lyonnais in time for the semi-final matchup against Umea IK on April 10th. I was fortunate to receive comp (free) tickets to the match, but for the average person it was only 5 Euros. The security treated this very similar to any other OL match at the famed Stade de Gerland. The women rarely play in the men’s stadium, but put it in perspective. It may be the only women’s team to play a non-final match in a men’s Champions League team stadium. Ever. We walked up into the reserved section…

The current title of my group master’s project, “Benchmarking Best Practice in Women’s Football: Case Studies in European clubs” Hence, sometimes I struggle to have perspective on what may seem foreign to American soccer fans. European women’s football is currently my life, so begins my “Did You Know? European Women's Football” series. Every week, I’ll give you some context for what I am experiencing here in Europe concerning women’s football.

Olympique Lyonnais: Did you know?

Part 1: Olympique Lyonnais in a nutshell. The club is on the French stock exchange. Its considered one of the most financially-viable clubs in Europe. (Learn more about Europe’s current obsession with Financial Fair Play) Its 2009 annual was 129 million Euros. 10% of the French population support OL. In 2004, they added the women’s side.

Arriving at the stadium club, we were greeted by daper-looking attendants checking our tickets. Once in, a wide-variety of delicious food and beverages waited to be eaten. In true Lyonnais fashion, they had pulled out all the stops. food is an art if France; even at a women’s football match.

Did You Know? Part 2: The president of OL, Jean-Michel Aulas has been a strong supporter of the women’s side. This may or may not have contributed to the fact the women’s side is fully integrated into their website, OLTV (own tv channel) highlight shows, and have managed to win the Division 1 Feminine title the last 3 years. Normally they play in a 2.2K person stadium adjacent to the men’s, Plaine des Jeux de Gerland, and averaging in league games around 250-300 fans.

Sitting down in one of the most famous stadium in Europe, it still seemed full of fan. I guessed correctly, almost 5,000 OL supporters had come to watch the exciting game. It was a mix of families, young adults (both men and women), and official-looking OL senior citizens. But the biggest point of interest, everyone watched the match the whole time. Whistled for bad offsides calls or missed fouls. Cheered for goals or good dribbling skills.

Did You Know? Part 3: Mostly thanks to the controversy concerning French National Team Players, Necib, Abily, and Bompastor, the French Football Federation instituted this rule in 2009, from the Financial Statements of OL (public information, btw):

As of 1 July 2009, the French Football Federation instituted a new status, "federation player", for women footballers. Starting with the 2009/10 season, the Club will therefore be able to pay the players on the women's team.

Maybe you are not familiar with the statues of FIFA but they essentially say, a professional player “is a player who has a written contract with a club and is paid more than the expenses he effectively incurs in return for his footballing activity” This is very interesting for women’s football, because in the case of Abily, Necib, and Bompastor, before they were conferred professional status by the FFF, they were considered amateurs because they were not paid more than their expenses… For women’s football, this statute will continue to be a hot topic that not many are aware of.

OL dominated but only came away with a 3-2 win. A particular name to watch out for, Corine Franco playing at right back, and no surprise Louisa Necib was given a serious look by the Washington Freedom. She tried (and almost successfully) to win the game by dribbling through numerous players. A few UEFA officials were on-hand, and in true Swiss-style, they remained completely neutral. I believe either the OL president or the head coach of the men’s side was there as well, but to be honest, I couldn’t tell you what they look like!

Olympique Lyonnais men and women made it to the semi-finals of their respective UEFA Champions league. Will one of them or both hold up the trophies this year?

Did You Know? Tidbit: According to one Swedish players Tweet, before it had to be cancelled due to the disruption of airtravel, the friendly between Germany and Sweden had already sold 16,000 tickets!

Out of Bounds (This is where I go completely off topic but have to bring up this item): So this slipped by me, but FIFA is expanding the 2015 WWC to 24 teams. At the time, Chile (who excellently hosted the U20WWC) and Canada were front-runners. Since then Chile has had major infrastructure damage to their entire country, including their stadiums. If Chile had been named host and the earthquake happened afterward, could we have seen another WWC03 scenario with China? Does this guarantee Canada's chances? Does Mother Nature just prefer basketball or something?

Must-Read Articles (every week, I’ll give you few quality articles I’ve found in my research):

The nerdiest of them all: Check out the new England women’s Super League Club Development Documents, under “Related Links” on the right hand side.

What’s your opinion on this article from “Eye-catching girls enhance allure

If that article makes you question FIFA at all (or not), do read these two new articles on the April 2010 edition of FIFA World. Well-written, and very interesting concerning clubs like OL or FC Zurich.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A House Built on Sand

I’m sitting in my easy chair doing some research project work looking out onto the lake sipping a cup of tea. Its very spring here, on occasion a light rain falling, the birds chirping in full force, and in the garden in front of my window is sprouting the beginnings of what I hope will be some lovely flowers. Things have changed dramatically since the Milan, and I’ll admit I’m feeling a bit like a thermostat instead of a thermometer. I am much happier here than I was in Milan. Already finding a nice Irish bar to watch sports, some great hiking trails in our backyard, and a rugby club which appears to have a 7s women’s team. The grocery store has organic and soy products, even teryaki sauce!

But the biggest thing that Colleen Hacker taught me while I was participating in the NSCAA Algarve Cup Symposium, was “Be a thermostat, not a thermometer”. Essentially, a thermometer only measures its surroundings, whereas a thermostat changes it. Unfortunately, this is a lesson I think I need every day. Anyone else feel this way? Just in the same way a constantly negative classmate can dampen my spirit, can’t I also influence those around me? As someone raised in a culture of individualism, where you are at liberty to choose when you want to “be helpful,” I’ve learned so much about communal living from my classmates. So maybe in the same way I can help those who are struggling with our new “small town” or simply struggling with the last part of our module. Maybe in July, I’ll have my classmates chime if I’m any good at this self-assigned task!

(Writers note: I’ve already learned two of my classmates average 4 hours a night while working! And not much more when not… Am I getting too much sleep??)

Yesterday, I was walking through the city center (or as Wikipedia called it, “old town”) and stumbled upon a group of French-speaking rappers. They were rhyming over some classic beats, and a small crowd had gathered. I had no idea what they were saying, but a few people around me smiled at apparently clever lyrics. I had an overwhelming urge to learn French so I could be in on the joke. But the whole picture, my new life and goal, put a smile on my face regardless. But it was only a moment’s pause, I was off to the local Irish bar to watch football with the boys.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thoughts on the Algarve Cup Experience

I'm on a plane again... No taking the joke too far? I had planned on blogging the whole weekend sorry! If you want a technical report head to I'd like to talk about something else.

I struggled to find the words to describe this weekend. But as Colleen would say you have to verbalize it. There may be only one word necessary: genuineness.

Between official sessions run by April Heinrichs or Colleen Hacker or their equally interesting “subs” Jitka Klimova and Karen McConnell, there were conversations with fellow participants the likes of whom coached at a variety of Division I, II, III and clubs around the country. Even was forced to watch the men’s hockey final with former Canadian NT-er Kristina Kiss! Then to add to great classroom sessions and informal conversations in our travels, there were the guest “appearances” by Pia Sundhage, Doris Fitschen, etc.

Suddenly I feel like I’m in some sort of women’s soccer movie… Where’s Kiera Knightley?

With my experiences in the FIFA Masters I’ve had the opportunity to meet some pretty powerful individuals in the world of sport. And yes it has been impressive in some respects, but this trip with the NSCAA Algarve Cup symposium was beyond all of that. I chatted about career development with Erin DeMarco, the head coach at Bryn Mawr College, picked the brain of Kwame, the head coach of Vermont, discussed UEFA’s development of women’s soccer with U20 Czech Head Coach, Jitka, and WPS brand and growth with Amanda from WPS, and had the opportunity to chat with the GM of the USWNT. This is all OUTSIDE of the sessions!

The sessions themselves, the applicability of Dr. Colleen Hacker’s team building activities and the connection by April Heinrichs of Germany’s practice session to our previous night’s discussion on their game tactics. The whole trip permeated with authenticity and a genuine appreciation of the game and each other.

This is by far my least successful blog, I wish you could’ve been there to hear the stories I heard, saw the things I saw, and most definitely... ate the things I ate.

I made new friends and strengthened old ones, learned new tactics and nuances of the game, learned a new perspective on players, had a lot of fun laughing and talking, but what really happened? I lived a genuine experience that will stay with me for life.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Do What You Love, Find a Career

Do What You Love, Find a Career:
A cop out answer to the tough question of deciding how to spend your days.

(Author's note: This week is about proactively developing a career. Don't wait around for management or your co-workers, or even your friends to do it for you!)
This time is a cup of tea, and maybe not so late at night. We are going to Lega Calcio’s headquarters tomorrow, it’s a must to be awake!

Last week, we had a man come in from a sports recruiting agency. No, not some firm of NCAA violators. This was to recruit “the right” professionals into companies they work with. Like some “unnamed super-rich English clubs”, yeah, that was really hard to guess. However, the talk did get me thinking about my career.

You know how people always say, “Find what you love and make it your career”…. Great, I’m going to be a professional beach bum who eats ice cream and reads interesting NY Times selling books. Hmmm, okay maybe not. I mean I have ambition, I have drive. And to be fair, the one thing I’ve love, hasn’t been difficult to discover.

I LOVE soccer, specifically women’s. You shocked?

But then what’s the problem?

I love coaching the up and comers, I love thinking of creative ideas for marketing players, I love the thrill of running game day, I love doing research about women’s soccer history, I love developing the future administrators of the game, I love synthesizing ideas to create a cohesive brand image. I’m assuming you may have the same problem? The world is open for our taking, but what a big world that is.

Or another way to put it: “Despite your skill set, you’re good at your job” Wiser words ne’er spoken, my friend.

I imagine you’re a doer like me. Can’t just wander through this career stuff! Here are my thoughts:

Make a Strengths List - Break them up into “personality” and “skills”. Personality is soft skills, Skills are the hard skills. Funny, I’ve often thought having a good personality was much harder than learning Spanish…

- Personality Examples: Sociable, Charismatic, good listener

- Skills Examples: I speak Russian and have an excellent ability to organize

Make a Weaknesses List - Again break them up, BUT be honest. This isn’t the list you send to your future employers. Simply determine what they are. You may also find some of these are strengths in the end because you indentified and acquired it.

- Example: Struggle to see projects to their completion, I lack motivation, I’ve never been outside of the US

Okay, now you know what you can bring to the table. As you can tell by your list: Congratulations you can do 75% of jobs in existence. Pat on the back, my friend. This is where joy comes in. Not happiness, joy. Happiness is what you feel at the bar after game day. Fleeting. Joy is talking to friends about your job with passion.

Make a Needs List – remember, what you HAVE to have.

Example: I need to be within a 3 hour drive of my family. I need health coverage. I need to be challenged with the tasks at my job.

I hope you didn’t write down your wants as needs! You selfish bugger. Now, in that “ideal” job, what would be present?

Make a Wants List – Go crazy! Small to large, its key to know what is really important to you (not your mother, not your roommate, YOU)

Example: A office culture of fitness/wellness, upper management who actively seeks to develop mid/lower managers, A job in a warm climate, requires no travel, and so on and so on…

Now you are getting somewhere. Look at this list, look at it closely. Compare it to your “love”, how does this list fit with what you see yourself doing? I can tell you my observations of my own list, I’ve concluded it may be a good idea to gain skills outside of women’s soccer to reach my eventual goals within women’s soccer.

My last note, show your list to a few trusted friends or colleagues. I mean super trusted. Someone who will be honest with you. Natalie, your blog does not count as a skill, in fact it should be listed as a weakness. No, seriously though, it’s good to have an outside perspective. Make sure they’ve seen you in a professional environment though. My rugby or pancake making skills aren’t exactly on my resume.

You figured out your career yet? Don’t be discouraged.

“Life should be journey that must be taken regardless of the bumps in the road”

PS. The examples are NOT from my list. Please, you think I’d let you see that thing??

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Retaining the Talent

Or How "The Last Supper" and One Week of Org Theory Inspired Revolutionary Organizational Ideas for the WPS.

(Author’s word of warning: I took Organizational Structure & Governance for a total of a week. These words expressed below are those of a beginner in the world of org theory. Please do not get bent out of shape, if you are in fact an org theorist and you think I am writing complete drivel. This is simply the start to what I hope to be is a great discussion.)

Its late at night, I’m listening to my artist de jour (currently in love with MoZella), I’ve caught up on enough of my email, had a lovely glass of incredibly cheap but amazing Italian wine. Must be time to write.

I am no DaVinci. When you enter the monks’ dining hall and see “The Last Supper” on the wall, with its incredible technical perspective, the raw emotion of the apostles. I could’ve stayed for hours. They gave us 15 minutes. But I’m not here to write about Italy, or the fact I will be at the AC/Inter game tomorrow. Yes, I just rubbed it in your face. My apologies.

Our professor, who also does licensing for UEFA, so I consider him somewhat qualified, began discussing organizational structure of common sports orgs. They are commonly flat structures, with very few steps to the top and many people at the bottom. Now wait… Professor, why does this sound familiar to me? GM…to Director… to Manager…to Intern!

Oh yes, the organizational structure of my team. And ALL WPS teams.

Major Issues: career plateau, back up – How do you develop your lower talent for top managerial positions? And finally, turnover – how to prevent voluntary turnover?

Someone piped in my class, well if you are passionate enough about something, you will stay with that organization. I can only assume he was referring to FIFA. But wait, I’m pausing again… Was I not passionate enough?

I would hope by now you can tell, I am erring on the side of too passionate concerning the development of women’s soccer. But I gave it all up.

Now I want to make something clear, Sky Blue FC was a different organization then, and I was a very different person professionally. How could I tell them what I wanted to advance my career while staying, if I didn’t even know myself? This is not some criticism of my former employer, but some ideas to throw into the universe. See if anything sticks. His suggestions, and my comments:

To Retain Talent in a Flat Structured Organization:

Job Rotation: This one I like a great deal for those of us looking to become General Managers, or possibly still exploring career paths. The company keeps a highly valued employee who doesn’t need an orientation. Say… Operations to Sponsorship. There may be at least one WPS employee doing this…

Project Leadership: This is key. This has to be a strong message coming from the highest levels of the WPS, and thus filtering downward. Assign your burgeoning talent projects to lead. Yes, there is little room for error in this economy, but the rising talent will end up leaving if they don’t feel challenged. (FYI, not speaking of myself!). A suggestion: Progress from superfluous projects which will enhance WPS but not a core activity, to a core activity project locally. Then the final progression is project leadership on a nationally relevant project. Then they should be ready by then to move to the next level of the organization! I would hope!

International Assignment: I’m going to suggest some crazy things here to bear with me. Best Practice Model… on an international level. Get a partnership with the new Super League, or the Swedish League. In the off-season, the lower levels get assigned to teams. They impart/learn knowledge, the foreign league pays their salary, and you have just created an incredibly strong international women’s soccer administrators network. I want to continue to develop this idea. More to come in the future…

International Career: His suggestion, mostly related to sports companies with multi-national subsidiaries, but there may still be something to glean from it. Host a WPS position at FIFA? Or host a FIFA person at the WPS? Something to continue to enhance the credibility of women’s soccer administrators as well as gain knowledge from abroad, and increasing the visibility of the league.

So just some suggestions. The greatest joy of this league is its newness, its ability to try new things, dynamic ideas which possibly one day the “Big 4” will copy in envy. Take it all with a grain of salt, I was inspired by DaVinci. It took him ten years to paint Mona Lisa’s lips.

"Things of the mind left untested by the senses are useless.” ~ Leonardo DaVinci