Fran Kirby and Emma Hayes win Barclays player and manager of the month awards for January

Emma Hayes and Fran Kirby

In today’s Daily Digest: A huge upset in the Australian Open, Chelsea duo win WSL awards and a damning report in UK Athletics.

Chelsea duo scoop Barclays player and manager of the month accolades for January

Fran Kirby and Emma Hayes have won the Barclays player and manager of the month awards for January, following Chelsea’s impressive run of form in the Women’s Super League.

Despite recently losing their 33-game unbeaten streak in the league at home to Brighton, Chelsea won every game in the month of January, scoring 15 goals and conceding just one.

There were impressive performances by a number of Chelsea’s tantalising forward contingent, with Sam Kerr, Melanie Leupolz and Pernille Harder all scoring twice, but it was Kirby who led the way with five goals in just three starts, including four in a 5-0 away win at Reading.

Chelsea are currently five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the WSL, but don’t face another league game now until Sunday, 7th March, where they travel to struggling West Ham.

Karolina Muchova stuns Ashleigh Barty in Australian Open quarter-final

World number one Ashleigh Barty suffered a shock exit to 25th seed Karoline Muchova in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, as her efforts to become the first Aussie to win the tournament since 1978 ended in remarkable circumstances.

As she bid for her second consecutive semi-final in Melbourne, Barty appeared to be cruising against the 24-year-old Czech, taking the first set 6-1 as Muchova struggled with dizziness in the searing heat.

Karolina Muchova

An early break in the second for Barty made victory seemingly inevitable, but a spirited Muchova then took a medical time-out to speak to a doctor, before returning to the court to take five of the next six games and force a decider.

Though Barty manufactured five break points in the final set, Muchova held her nerve and eventually clinched the third set 6-2.

Muchova will now play U.S. Open semi-finalist Jennifer Brady in the semi-finals after she beat fellow American Jessica Pegula in three sets.

FA women’s refereeing manager, Joanna Stimpson, says there’s ‘not enough value’ in having full-time match officials in the WSL

Joanna Stimpson, the women’s professional game refereeing manager for the FA, has admitted that the Women’s Super League does not have the financial backing to pay for full-time officials at this time.

Speaking to Molly Hudson from The Times, Stimpson said: “The full-time match officials currently in the [men’s] leagues they operate in are subsidised heavily by the league.

“The FA contributes a little bit, but most of it comes from the leagues they operate in. Currently, there’s not the value in the WSL to afford to pay full-time match officials and that is ultimately what it comes down to.”

Hayley Ladd

With regards to the future, Stimpson hopes to increase the level of professionalism around the Women’s Super League and says it is in her vision to have full-time officials eventually.

For now though, the focus is on putting the infrastructure in place, so that when there is an “injection of income”, full-time officials can become a reality.

Leeds Rhinos star Donnell Wallam fractures radius bone

Australian import Donnell Wallam will face a lengthy spell on the sidelines after Leeds Rhinos Netball confirmed she has fractured her radius bone.

The goal-shooter, who scored 15 goals in Monday’s loss to Saracens Mavericks before her injury, has now had surgery, with a timeline concerning her return yet to be announced.

Wallam is not the Rhinos only injury concern, as Tuaine Keenan and Fi Toner, who also went off against the Mavericks, will face scans to assess the extent of their injuries soon.

Despite their extensive injury list, the Rhinos will take encouragement from the narrow loss to Saracens, as the performances of Sienna Rushton and Paige Kindred showcased their strength in depth this season.

Leeds’ next game is against Surrey Storm this Sunday, who also have one victory from their opening two games.

Many female coaches experience sexual harassment in UK Athletics, report finds

Research by Leeds Beckett University, that was commissioned by the Female Coaching Network, found that some female coaches working in UK Athletics have experienced “sexual harassment and degradation.”

The study also found that, across the last decade, there have been over 200 male coaches on British international teams for the Olympic athletes programme — but not one female.

UK Athletics chief executive Joanna Coates promised that there would be a “zero tolerance” policy for harassment of any kind.

Speaking to Sportsmail, Coates stressed “We need to change the culture whereby people know they will be taken seriously if they come forward.”

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