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Discrimination and Funding Problems

As with any organization, issues will always arise that require review and potential modification of existing rules and regulations to keep up with the current cultural views and values of the country. Two issues that have plagued womenís football leagues since their inception are a lack of available funding and sexual discrimination. Obviously, any restriction of funding for sports programs will be a huge barrier to progress. Teams forced to practice with inferior fields, equipment, and facilities are automatically at a disadvantage against more privileged teams. This has proven to be a frequent problem for womenís football teams across England. Despite a rise in female players, officials and fans in 2005, funding for womenís teams actually decreased from the 2004 season.

 

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Sexual discrimination has also plagued the Womenís Football Leagues in Britain since they began in the late 19th century. Womenís teams are frequently given second priority to the needs of menís teams. Women have been forced to practice on inadequately maintained fields, have little say in when and where they are scheduled to play, and have been subjected to derogatory statements. Also, rarely are the facilities available for them to use appropriately equipped for use by women (e.g., bathroom facilities only designed for men).

The Football Foundation (FA) is currently working to improve these issues and create more equality for women within todayís growing number of female football leagues. Rules and regulations are now in place to establish accommodations that will meet the needs of both male and female players including proper locker room facilities and access to playing fields. Organization leaders are working to dispel the long-held belief that the participation of women in sports historically dominated by men is somehow inappropriate and should be either banned or restricted altogether. Given the global concern over growing health and obesity rates in recent year, officials strive to reinforce the fact that participating in group sports can have benefits for everyone. These benefits include not only improvements in overall health, but also a means of socialization for players of all ages and sexes.

There is a professional level league available for the most skilled female players in Britain, but it has not seen the same degree of success and publicity as the menís leagues. This professional league is known as the Womenís Premier League. Due in large part to inadequate access to resources in certain geographic locations, there appears to be a noticeable discrepancy between the skill-level of top teams compared to the lower teams within these clubs. The teams with the less access to proper equipment and sufficient practice time will obviously be ill-prepared to compete with more financially stable teams. Since the top teams are not truly challenged by many of the lower teams, the games played between these types of teams tend to attract far fewer spectators than do games between more equally matched teams.

Conclusion

Although there is still significant progress to be made, womenís football leagues in Britain have definitely come a long way since their inception in the late 1890ís. No longer is the thought of women participating in competitive contact sports so taboo. The Football Association has made tremendous strides to ensure women have equal access to the resources (e.g., equipment and facilities) long available to male leagues. In efforts to encourage greater funding for womenís leagues, The FA has joined forces with sports broadcasting giant ESPN to televise the womenís football league games and finally make them available to as wide of an audience as is already available to the menís teams. These improvements, as well as the anticipation of the success of the Womenís Super League in 2011 portray a hopeful and prosperous future for the coaches and players who have dedicated years of their life to the sport.