By Paul Nicholson in San Diego
November 10 – This weekend the NWSL closes its season with its Championship Final between OL Reign and NJ/NY Gotham FC at the Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego. It will also close out the careers of two US footballing legends, Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger.
But as the curtain come down on the 2023 season and the final games of these two US playing legends, so new growth and co-operation is propagating through the women’s game.
While the NWSL was holding close season meetings, educational seminars and basking in the glory of a record breaking new $240 million broadcast deal, women’s league executives from around the world were gathering in San Diego under the umbrella of the World Leagues Forum.
The feeling among the delegates was overwhelming positive and that the women’s club game was at the start of something big.
Jerome Perlemuter, general secretary of the World Leagues Forum, told Insideworldfootball: “Six years ago the World Leagues Forum was men’s leagues only and even two years ago only three or four of our members were organising women’s leagues. So we had to be more creative (if we wanted to bring women’s leagues together) and we contacted major organisations responsible for women’s leagues. Some leagues were truly independent of men’s leagues and their FAs, while some were operated by FAs and others worked with men’s leagues.”
The result has been the pulling together of more than 15 of the world’s leading women’s leagues, most of whom are under different organisational structures but all of whom face many of the same challenges and all have the same objectives of broadening and improving the women’s professional game.
Bringing leagues that are run by FAs into the World League Forum is a challenge as its members are leagues, rather than FAs.
This is the second time the World Leagues Forum has gathered the women’s leagues together and the outcome of their meetings this weekend looks likely to be a stronger bonding between them, if not necessarily a formal one.
The World Leagues Forum already has three working groups covering calendar, safeguarding and governance. By the end of this week you can expect to see the women’s leagues combined for a lot more organisation and purpose.
As Rapinoe and Krieger sign off careers that have been inspirational for women and women’s sports worldwide, so the next evolution of the women’s professional game is taking shape.
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