Subbuteo have this week launched the first all-female table football set to recognise the rapidly rising profile of the women’s game in the UK. In a joint announcement by the FA and Hasbro – the game’s maker – the limited-edition version was unveiled just in time for the SSE Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley on 5th May.

Arsenal and Chelsea images

To commemorate the hugely-anticipated climax to this year’s competition, the figures have been fittingly produced in the colours of the two finalists Arsenal Women and Chelsea Ladies.

Fran Kirby success

Their timing seems extremely apt after recent press coverage drawing attention to the success of the Chelsea and England forward, Fran Kirby this season.

The 24-year-old rising star has been voted Player of the Year by both her fellow professionals in the game and by the Football Writers’ Association, the first time that particular honour has been awarded.

Despite her side, Chelsea, failing to overcome Wolfsburg in the 2018 Champions League last weekend, on a personal note, Kirby has enjoyed a stellar season. An impressive haul of 22 goals in just 31 matches makes it easy to see why the plaudits have been forthcoming. She can also potentially look forward to a Chelsea domestic double, as besides their obvious FA Cup ambitions they are also top of the Women’s Super League with just four games to play.

FA keen to back growth of the game

Recognising that the Subbuteo set launch could be viewed as a token effort, the FA have been keen to stress that their objective is to tackle any perceived barriers to the progress of the women’s game.

The set lends weight to their sincerity, as the 22 miniature figures plus substitutes have been designed to reflect distinguishable female images with individual characteristics and of multi-ethnic origins. The message they are promoting is clearly that the game wants all girls and women to embrace and feel a part of the sport.

Exploring commercial options

Although not freely available for purchase in the shops, the set can be won by the fortunate few through FA social channels over the months to come. There is, however, the promise that the FA and Hasbro will be “exploring future opportunities” that would make a women’s football set a viable commercial option.

Up to number two in the rankings

Public interest in women’s football in Britain seems to be on an upward curve in the last few years, especially. There have been unwanted headlines involving former national manager Mark Sampson, but new supremo Phil Neville seems to be steadying the ship once more. Indeed, on the back of their unforgettable surge to third place at the 2015 World Cup and the semi-finals at Euro 2017, they currently lie second in the Fifa rankings behind the USA.