Three months after FIFA announced its Player of the Year; Carli Lloyd controversially bagging the award for the second year in a row, the BBC released a shortlist of five women vying for its Women’s Footballer of the Year (WFOTY) award.
In its third edition, it was a complete ensemble of forwards, midfielders and goalkeeper with major absentees recorded. For the first time since its inception in 2015, No African or American were nominated.
The shortlist based on performance of the calendar year (January 2016 to January 2017), was selected by a large panel of experts involved in the game from all around the world, including coaches, players, administrators and journalists
Criteria for the selection of the nominees include;
· Sporting excellence (e.g. technical ability, teamwork, impact on results, trophies, fair play, consistency, improved levels of performance)
· Regional impact (contribution they have made to football and sport in their region on and off the pitch)
· Global significance (importance for the global game and it’s development)
All these were deemed applicable to their work with their clubs, as well as national teams.
On that note, let’s take a look at why these women stand out in 2016/17.
Hedvig Lindahl (Goalkeeper):
Goalkeepers rarely get the praise they deserve but in this case, Lindahl forced the world to look her way, and they were left stunned.
As she stood tall between the sticks for Sweden at the 2016 Rio Olympics, she marshaled her team all the way to the final with three quarter final and semis penalty shootout saves. According to Lindahl, they deservedly got the silver medal after losing to Germany simply because, nobody believed they would go far in the tournament, after a less than stellar start to the campaign.
Her move to English Club Chelsea in 2014, has seen her extend her contract to 2019. She was a steady figure as Chelsea finished as 2016 FA WSL runners-up.
Instrumental to Sweden’s qualification for the 2017 UEFA Women’s EURO, she possesses the immense ability to read the game and make timely interceptions. Very commanding and aware of her box at 33 years of age, she’s a calming influence on her team and a menace to the opposition. Nadine Angerer, Hope Solo and Briana Scurry all possessed these. Lindahl is gradually influencing a new wave of goalkeeping culture.
Melanie Behringer (Midfielder):
How many women who played with the likes of Birgit Prinz become goal scoring machines, 11 years into National team service?
The answer is ”Not a lot”, and that’s why Behringer is a gift that keeps on giving.
At 30, she emerged the highest goalscorer at the Rio Olympics (with five goals), propelling Germany to take Gold. Although she sadly called it quits from international football after Rio 2016, she undoubtedly rose from the shadows of a highly gifted German squad.
Now 31, she’s the complete midfielder; digs in to defend by tracking back, releases the ball and takes her chances expertly. We’re absolutely amazed at how her game has evolved over the years. Her move to Bayern Munich in 2014 has seen them win the Bundesliga back to back.
Christine Sinclair (Forward/Attacking Midfielder):
The perfect emulation of graft, perseverance and longevity the women’s game has seen in this generation.
As an attacking midfielder and forward, Sincy, doesn’t get the credit she deserves as the second highest goalscorer in women’s football, behind Abby Wambach. 2015 was a good year for her but at the Rio Olympics in 2016, her goals and steady leadership has transformed Canada from a good team to a serious force (at the twilight of her career).
Bronze medalist with Canada at the Olympics, occupying fifth on the latest Fifa ranking, Sincy, 33, is one of the few stalwarts of the modern game and inspires generations of Canadian footballers and is a great figure for women empowerment.
She also led the Portland Thorns to the 2016 NWSL Shield.
Ada Hegerberg (Forward):
How do you solve a problem like Ada. I mean, a good defensive problem?
At 21, she boasts of the treble; 2016 UEFA Champions league, French League and the French cup for Olympique Lyon. Champions league highest goalscorer and UEFA Best women’s player in 2016, Ada is Norway’s golden girl.
She’s also Norway’s 2016 Golden ball winner (for the national teams combined), the first time a female player took home the award in over a decade. As a key component for Norway’s EUROS qualification, it’s not just her goals that absolutely dazzles all, but her brilliance in between runs and the sheer skill at which she shoots her aim.
She’s 5 feet 8 and epitomizes a complete forward: CLINICAL!
She’s that good, she’s known as one name.
”Marta! Marta!! Marta!!”, The crowd in Rio and the Orlando Airport screamed her name.
The bonafide star of the women’s game had a 2016 reminiscent of the time she won the FIFA Player of the year five times in a row!
Two goals at the 2016 Olympic games for host nation Brazil wasn’t the focal point, but how she united a nation (despite finishing fourth), with its female footballers and dazzled with her leadership skills, on and off the pitch.
2016 Sweden’s Damallsvenskan Runner up with Rosengard FC before her big April move to Orlando Pride in the NWSL, Marta at 31 has the world at her feet, yet again.
The voting lines are open for a period of two weeks and will close on Monday 15th May, with the winner of the award unveiled on Tuesday 30th May 2017.
These five had it great in 2016. Let’s crown the greatest.