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England ladies win central contracts

dc1The English Football Association has surprised all of us by awarding central contracts to 17 women players in a bid to boost the national team’s hope of success. A further three are likely to be added to the roster and, with salaries of £16,000 each, the FA is committing a total of £1.28m to the scheme over an initial four-year period.

According to the FA chairman, Lord Triesman: “This is a vital step that’s right for our sport. It will ensure that our head coach [Hope Powell] will have outstanding players available to her in the future.”

A further five squad members are also part of the England squad but they play as full-time professionals in the United States, earning more than twice the central contract salary. The FA’s move gives Powell, three months ahead of the 2009 European Championship finals in Finland, potentially the strongest squad she has had since taking charge in 1998. The home-based players will be allowed part-time jobs outside their football commitments, but only up to a maximum of 24 hours a week.

“This is a great opportunity for the players,” Powell said. “These contracts will help them to focus on training and playing, and allow them the time to concentrate on helping England to qualify for major tournaments on a consistent basis and to compete at the very top level against the best teams in the world.”

Doncaster Belles 20-year-old midfielder Rachel Williams is a plasterer by trade. “This is brilliant for me. When I finish work at the moment I’m knackered and that affects my training. Now I’ll be fresher and hopefully I can push on to break into the England squad for the Euro finals.”

Anyway you know how I love a crossbar challenge so here is the England ladies team doing the crossbar challenge:

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