Sportswomen: Casey Stoney and Eni Aluko chat WSL, England and discrimination

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Last Updated: 12/02/14 4:09pm

This week on Sportswomen, England captain Casey Stoney and forward Eni Aluko joined me in the Sky cafe. We chatted about the impending WSL season with both feeling it will be the most exciting yet.

Following such a competitive campaign last year, which went right down to the wire, many teams have strengthened during the close season with plenty of overseas players and, coupled with several now training full time, both felt this can only lead to a fascinating campaign.

Casey's back at Arsenal and really relishing the impending Champions League quarter-final tie with Birmingham while Eni has been really encouraged by Chelsea's signings and is hopeful they can make a charge this season.

Football agent Rachel Anderson also told us her story of when she was not allowed into a PFA dinner back in 1997 and again in '98 for simply being a woman. We spoke about how things have really changed within the game - Casey is now a committee member on the PFA, which Eni agreed is vital for the women's game and a good step in the right direction.

Casey also spoke about why recently she'd decided to publicly reveal her sexuality - she felt it could encourage other professionals or indeed youngsters struggling to come to terms with being gay to come out and feel confident about doing so. Already she's had a really positive reaction with one parent contacting her to say it had helped her daughter come out this week.

Eni feels there is a real problem in society with people being ok with who they are regardless of colour, sexuality or religion. She said that when people do come out proudly saying "This is who I am" then largely people embrace it.

Incredibly positive

England are about to get the defence of their Cyprus Cup underway next month and with new manager Mark Sampson at the helm both Casey and Eni felt the changes he's implemented are incredibly positive.

Eni's noticed how his enthusiasm and attitude towards the players has made a real impact and he enjoys a very attacking style which is exciting for the players. Strong competition in the squad means the women are all pushing for a start, which can only mean better performances from everyone.

Casey felt the profile of the women's game still needed raising as we spoke about the huge discrepancy between both their central contracts and club salaries compared to their male counterparts. But she felt that if they can increase attendances and therefore increase the money coming into the game, there is no reason why one day they can't be on level terms with regards to finance.

The women's game is definitely going from strength to strength - the new WSL season should be the most exciting yet and with England very much on track in their qualifiers they could be heading to Canada for the World Cup finals in 2015. Exciting times ahead for the women's game indeed.

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