BAFA’s 2018 Sapphire Series features eighteen teams from Scotland, Wales and England who will be battling in three divisions for the National Championship of women’s football in the UK.
In Division 1, the same eight teams from 2017 will return to contest the 2018 National Crown, which will be played using the Sapphire Series seven on seven (7v7) format.
Division 1 is split into north and south and the teams will participate in four rounds to decide who makes the finals:
East Kilbride Pirates
The new Division 2A will feature six teams split into north and south who are making the transition from the 5v5 format to play 7v7 and will participate in three rounds before the finals.
Division 2B consists of four developing teams including newcomers the Kent Exiles Women who will contest the 5v5 format. The teams will take part in three rounds before the finals.
The new season will begin on February 3rd for division 1 while divisions 2A and 2B will join in a week later with subsequent rounds being played on February 24th and March 3rd before the National Finals on March 17th.
BAFA Head of Women’s Football Development Jim Messenger ventured, “I guess the biggest question for most people will be if any team can overcome the four-times champions Birmingham Lions to steal the national title this year, but the Division 2 battle will also be intense with an intriguing look at the teams stepping-up to the larger format in 2A.”
For the teams in division 2A, the transition from the 5v5 to 7v7 format will be an interesting development. Portsmouth Dreadnoughts head coach James Chard’s enthusiasm for the progression is obvious when he told NFLGirlUK, “We are incredibly excited to make the step up to 7s for the upcoming Sapphire Series. We had a great rookie season, but we know that we can achieve a lot more and the 7s should give us the opportunity to do so.
We have had great recruitment since last season and added some very talented rookies to play alongside players with previous experience. We have also been able to expand our coaching staff so that we now have a positional coach for every position which I hope will allow our talented group of players to progress further. “
The Dreadnoughts expanding their players and coaching depth is confirmation of the growth and spirit within the woman’s game in the UK. James got it right when he said, “We cannot wait to get onto the field and test ourselves against some great teams.” That is the passionate fervour the women’s game is played in.