WSL

Katie McCabe urges governing bodies to solve calendar congestion in women’s game

By Sports Desk March 01, 2024 98

Arsenal winger Katie McCabe hopes football’s governing bodies will heed calls to solve a calendar congestion issue she sees as potentially detrimental to players and fans.

The Gunners have already sold more than 58,000 tickets for Sunday’s north London derby, two weeks after selling 60,160 for a first-time Women’s Super League sell-out at the Emirates Stadium before the international break.

But in order for teams to deliver an on-pitch product worthy of those legions, stressed the Republic of Ireland captain, players need adequate time to allow their bodies to recover from the increasingly demanding nature of the elite women’s game.

She told the PA news agency: “I think for us to be playing at our best and to be giving those record crowds good games to watch we need to be fresh.

“With the FIFA window, and obviously the Euro qualifiers window, it’s incredible how they’ve moved an international camp in the middle of summer and thinking that was a good idea.

“It’s difficult. Obviously we are footballers, we want to be able to play the games, but we also want to feel that freshness going into it as well. It’s really difficult for us, but we obviously need to keep going.

“Unfortunately it’s not in our power as players, we want the governing bodies to listen to us and to make sure there’s change with that as well, because it’s not going to be solved in the way it’s being solved right now.”

McCabe’s sentiments echo those of Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango, who at a summit earlier this week pointed to what he felt was a depleted Manchester City side for last season’s men’s Champions League final, saying: “For us, we’ve reached a stage where it is not just about the health of the player, it is (also) about us killing the product.”

The growing women’s game faces similar scheduling challenges and player welfare concerns, particularly for athletes representing national teams alongside top sides like Arsenal, who currently sit third in the WSL and three points behind both Chelsea and Manchester City.

McCabe, like so many in her squad, has just returned from international duty to an injury-depleted Gunners side not just competing for the title but still alive in the Continental Tyres League Cup, which will crown a winner at the end of this month.

Euro 2025 qualifiers begin in April before the WSL season concludes on May 18, preceded by the FA Cup final and followed by the Champions League decider the following weekend – with league leaders Chelsea still in contention for a quadruple.

The second batch of European qualifiers are scheduled for the end of May, followed by more in mid-July – and though the next WSL season does not start until September 21, whoever finishes third this campaign will be in Champions League action during the first week of that month.

While McCabe is leaving what she cannot control to the powers that be, she and her team-mates have embraced wearable GPS-tracking technology to help with injury prevention, monitor fitness and performance and better inform decisions made by strength and conditioning coaches.

She said: “We’re quite competitive, so for us we’re always interested in the nitty-gritty things. I know when I’ve hit certain metrics in a game, I feel like I’ve had a good game, and we’re able to look at numbers throughout the week so we’re not underloaded or overloaded going into games.

“We just concentrate on what we can control and take each game as it comes. Teams are taking points off everybody, so let’s start again on Sunday.”

Katie McCabe is an ambassador and investor for the world’s leading GPS performance tracker, STATSports.

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Last modified on Friday, 01 March 2024 06:34
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