North West rivals Gemma Bonner and Izzy Christiansen are united in their determination to raise the profile of women’s football to new heights.

England’s historic third place finish at the World Cup in Canada captured the imagination of the nation.

The Lionesses’ performances ensured greater interest in the FA Women’s Super League that has kicked-off again after its mid season break.

City and Liverpool are fifth and sixth behind leaders Sunderland Ladies though goals from Toni Duggan and Steph Houghton’s deflected effort helped City beat third placed Chelsea 2-1 to keep up the pressure.

So, Liverpool defender Bonner and Manchester City midfielder Christiansen are keen to help their respective clubs shoot for the top in the coming months.

In doing so the pair could also boost their chances of a nomination for the 2015 MBNA Northwest Football Awards’ women’s player of the year. Duggan was the inaugural winner in 2013 and succeeded 12 months later by fellow England star, Houghton.

For the first time this year the coveted accolade will be sponsored by Women in Football, an organisation representing women working throughout the industry.

Jo Tongue a WiF Director and Board member will be on the Awards’ judging panel. “Women in Football are looking forward to working more closely with NWFA in what is a really exciting, progressive year for the industry,” says Tongue.

“With the profile of the game and so many inspirational individuals in it at an all time high, we’re thrilled to be supporting the Awards”

Bonner, 24, who helped Liverpool to the 2013 FA WSL title, is thrilled by how much recognition her sport is now receiving.

“I remember five years ago when I was at Leeds, we’d be lucky to get around 20 supporters watching our games,” she explained. “Since then the standard of the football has really improved and attendances are improving as well.

“To get all this recognition and publicity for women’s football is brilliant. Hopefully, it can be sustainable and keep progressing.”

Liverpool are nine points behind Sunderland and second place Arsenal and Bonner admits:”It has been a frustrating season but we are not too far off. We hope we can come good in the second half of the season.”

Macclesfield born Christensen, 23, who previously played for Everton and Birmingham, concurs with Bonner. “The way the game has progressed in the last four to five years has been remarkable,” says the Blues ace.

“That’s credit to everyone involved in the game. And I am delighted to be at a club like City that is doing such fantastic things for women’s football and I am hoping to raise the profile even more.

“It is such an honour to be at the club and it is an honour to be part of an era for women’s football where it is striving to be better and really going places.”

Christiansen would also love to emulate City team mates Houghton and Duggan by keeping the MBNA NWFA women’s player prize at the Etihad Stadium.

“Of course,” she laughs. “But Steph is a fantastic player and a fantastic person as well. She has been a fantastic role model for me as a younger player growing up and I would love to follow in her footsteps at some stage.”

Bonner, a nominee in 2013, and Christiansen must wait until November 16 at the Point, Emirates, Old Trafford for all Awards to be handed out.

However, Laura Wolfe, managing director of Journey9 and the MBNA Northwest Football Awards, is already happy to celebrate the new partnership with Women in Football.

“It’s a perfect fit for me and the MBNA Northwest Football Awards,” says Wolfe. “I am passionate about football and was thrilled when we were able to add a women’s player of the year category to our Awards in 2013.

“Since then the game and the profile of the Award has continued to grow. You only need to look at the profile of our two winners, Toni and Steph, to see how high the bar is already set for future holders.”

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