The new MSIL women's football team is ready to experience its first season. (Photo: Maxence Gueritot)

The student women’s football team has joined the competition

MSIL – EOFK 2-3 (2-1): Freshly created, the student women’s football team of the university college of Molde is beginning a new adventure, based on having fun and following the rise of women’s football at the global level.

By MAXENCE GUERITOT (text & photo)

The football scene is not an entirely one-sided field anymore. Despite the large domination of men’s football in terms of popularity when compared to its women counterpart, the latter is going through a development phase which highlights an increase in participation and engagement. The FIFA World Cup which is going to be held in less than a month, in France, is surely going to have an impact in that regard, leading to more female participation and team creation in this part of the discipline.

A growth is already observable at this point and an example can be found with Molde Studentenes Idrettslag (MSIL), which has introduced its women’s team for the first time this year. The student organization, led by its representative Jørgen Hveding Andreassen, has had a men’s football team for several years in the past and can now offer the same opportunity to women.

MSIL played its fourth game of the season against Eide of Omegn FK. (Photo: Maxence Gueritot)

Engaged in the 3.divisjon Kvinner of the Nordmøre og Romsdal region, the team competes within the structure of the Norwegian Football Federation and faces on a weekly basis neighboring teams, ranging from the second team of Træff in Molde to Surnadal.

The match-up against Surnadal was actually played on May 9th and represented the team’s biggest trip of the season, with a two-hour drive from Molde before being able to access the away field. Considering this, it is not surprising to learn that MSIL received its biggest loss of the season during this opposition (5-0), especially after learning that the players travel with their own cars and share the costs between the team members.

This information given by MSIL’s coach, Jonathan Yrjø Rinne, highlights the usual challenges that arise with a newly created organization and which the freshly built women’s team is currently facing. He expressed other issues that they have had to manage during this initial process of creating a new squad, particularly concerning the recruitment of players: “We had a first meeting in November, with around fifty to sixty girls who showed up, then we had our first training in January with approximately thirty of them. […] Today, we had to finish the game with ten players for the last fifteen minutes because of injuries and a lack of substitutes available.

Advantageous match conditions led to a pleasant game. (Photo: Maxence Gueritot)

During this specific match, played on May 15th against Eide og Omegn FK at home on Molde kunstgress, the team could have greatly benefited from a few more players ready to play in the final minutes of the game. This fourth game of MSIL’s season could have even turned out to be the first win in the club’s history after two initial draws and the loss against Surnadal.

The scenario of the match seemed ideal for the team to secure its first three points in the league. Despite an early goal scored within the first twenty minutes by Eide og Omegn FK, MSIL managed to turn the situation around with two consecutive goals scored before the end of the first half by Kristine Furø and Charlotte Bjøringsøy, respectively wearing the number 23 and 18.

The team congratulates Charlotte Bjøringsøy (18) after a wondergoal giving MSIL the lead. (Photo: Maxence Gueritot)

A few great saves made by the team’s keeper Anette Haugland during the second half helped to keep MSIL on top for most of the game, but the late injuries and the lack of substitutes available eventually led to the opposition’s striker scoring a brace in the final minutes and therefore giving MSIL its second loss of the season (2-3).

Despite the result, the team showed some encouraging signs of development and hints that it is heading in the right direction, as Jonathan Yrjø Rinne expressed: “We can already see some progress within the team, with more cohesion. […] Ultimately, our objective is not about competition, it is about having fun and it’s a nice project ,so we are going to keep developing it.”

His assistant coach, Thor Olav Tvedt Delgado-Rodriguez, also seemed satisfied of the way the team is currently evolving despite the result, and he emphasized the need to recruit new players to add to the roster.

The team’s coaching staff has set objectives based on having fun while playing. (Photo: Maxence Gueritot)

A solution could be found with international students who, for some of them, might be interested in the project and provide some added value, as the coaching staff agreed: “We have an objective of development, so we need to get more girls in, even internationals. The information for this season were given in Norwegian, so it was maybe difficult for internationals to get in, but next time we will definitely try to open it to everyone.” With Norway being ranked at the 12th place of the most recent FIFA Women’s World Ranking, a much better position than the men’s 50th spot, there is a qualitative local pool of young players available already, but some support from German, French or even Japanese students could turn out to be valuable.

Nevertheless, the team is engaged in a promising path and also benefits from the support of MSIL men’s team, from which several players came to attend the match against Eide og Omegn FK. With such a positive environment to grow, it is not surprising to see external comments being made regarding the quality of the team. The lead referee for the game, Victoria Sipian Slemmen Lervik, and one of her assistant, Tuva Grøvdal, have been refereeing regularly for three seasons in the region and they compared their previous experience with the MSIL-EoFK matchup: “We can see that more teams are being created now and we had two really good teams today.”

The journey begins for MSIL women’s football team. (Photo: Maxence Gueritot)

With the natural development that women’s football is currently going through, the increased interest and media attention given to global events such as the World Cup, and the rise in participation that can be observed in several countries, this side of the most popular sport in the world can expect to witness a lot of support and positive projects, such as the one led by MSIL.