Toppserien: Norway’s Premier League of Women’s Football

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Are you a football fan? Here’s an introduction to Toppserien, the top level of women’s football in Norway.

Since moving to Norway, I’ve gradually got more and more interested in Norwegian football. It took me a while, but now I rarely watch any games back in England, preferring instead to watch games in person.

Rosenborg v Vålerenga at Koteng Arena, Trondheim. Photo: David Nikel.
Rosenborg v Vålerenga at Koteng Arena, Trondheim. Photo: David Nikel.

More recently, I’ve watched women’s football games for the first time in person, too. Last year, I watched ‘my team’ play in Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim.

Toppserien, the top level of women’s football in Norway, is a competitive league that has attracted more interest in recent years, thanks in part to a game being broadcast live every week by NRK.

Attendances at games are still relatively low, but they are creeping up. It’s also very apparant that interest in the youth game is growing. At Toppserien games, there’s so many girls wearing tracksuits adorned with the name of their local club.

If you’re interested in watching women’s football games in Norway, whether on TV or in person, read on for your complete guide to Toppserien.

Introducing Norway’s Toppserien

Founded in 1984, Toppserien is the top level of Norwegian football for women. It is a UEFA-affiliated league, so the best teams qualify to participate in UEFA club tournaments. Toppserien takes place between April and November.

The format is relatively simple. There are ten teams that play each other three times per season, so each team plays a total of 27 games. This also means that some teams play another team once at home and twice away, and vice versa.

Promotion and relegation takes place each season between Toppserien and the next level, known as the first division.

Vålerenga women’s team playing at Intility Arena in Oslo. Photo: David Nikel.
Vålerenga women’s team playing at Intility Arena in Oslo. Photo: David Nikel.

The reigning Toppserien champions are Vålerenga. In 2023, Vålerenga topped the table with 59 points, one point ahead of closest rivals Rosenborg. Both teams qualified for the first round of the UEFA Champions League.

The Controversial Play-Off Experiment

In 2022, a controversial new format was introduced. Rather than crowning the league winner as the champions, the league was split into two after each team had played each other twice.

The top four teams then entered a second phase of the league to decide the overall Toppserien winner. The bottom six teams entered a similar phase.

Supporters groups of Norway’s four biggest clubs issued a joint statement condemning the decision, and called on supporters to boycott the play-off games. This had a big impact, as the format was scrapped after just one season.

Toppserien Clubs in 2024

Anyone interested in the men’s game will recognise some familiar names in Toppserien. However, the history of many of these clubs is a complicated one.

Of the ten clubs competing in Toppserien 2024, six are from the Oslo region, and three come from the Bergen region. Here are the clubs, in alphabetical order:

Arna-Bjørnar: One of three clubs from the Bergen area playing in Toppserien, Arna-Bjørnar finished last in 2023. However, because of the financial problems faced by Avaldsnes, Arna-Bjørnar were given a reprieve and will play the 2024 season in Toppserien.

Brann: The successor club to Sandviken, which won Toppserien in 2021. As Brann, the club won Toppserien for the first time in 2022. They attracted attention for their good run in the UEFA Champions League in the 2023/24 season, which ended in a quarter-final defeat by Barcelona.

Kolbotn: With three league titles, Kolbotn is one of the more successful women’s clubs in Norway, and are back in Toppserien for the 2024 season. In 2023, Kolbotn comfortably won the first division title with 14 wins from 18 matches.

Lillestrøm: The successor club to both Setskog/Høland and Team Strømmen. Lillestrøm won the league title in six consecutive seasons between 2014 and 2019, but have been trophyless since then.

Lyn: Based in the west side of Oslo, Lyn have played in Toppserien since 2018. They play their home games at Kringsjå.

Vålerenga fans and players celebrating a win at Brann in 2023. Photo: David Nikel.
Vålerenga fans and players celebrating a win at Brann in 2023. Photo: David Nikel.

Rosenborg: The successor club to Trondheims-Ørn, one of Norway’s most successful women’s football clubs. In 2020, the club became part of Rosenborg men’s football club. Since then, it finished in second place in Toppserien in 2020, 2021, and 2023.

Røa: Based in western Oslo, Røa enjoyed a lot of success between 2004 and 2011, but has struggled in recent years. Nevertheless, Røa has spent every season except one in Toppserien since its promotion in 2000.

Stabæk: The team from Bærum began life by taking many of the players from Asker, following the club’s downfall in 2008. Stabæk are well established in Toppserien, but have struggled to challenge for the title in recent years.

Vålerenga: Since achieving promotion by winning the first division in 2011, Vålerenga have spent every season in Toppserien.

The club won its first title in 2020, and followed that up with the title in 2023. The team play its home games at Oslo’s Intility Arena, the same stadium used by Vålerenga’s men’s team.

Åsane: The club from the Bergen region achieved promotion in the 2022 season. In 2023, the team’s 25 points were enough to secure its Toppserien status for a second year. Åsane plays at the Åsane Arena, also used by the men’s club.

Watching Toppserien Games

Are you interested in attending a game in person? Or perhaps you want to check out the league on TV first? Either way, here’s how to start watching Toppserien games in Norway.

Toppserien Matches on TV

NRK is your friend if you’re interested in watching women’s football in Norway. Each weekend, NRK broadcasts a match live, on NRK1 or NRK2. Other games are broadcast live by TV2 Sport, which is also accessible with a TV2 Play subscription.

Toppserien Matches in Person

Attending Toppserien matches in person is a family-friendly activity well worth giving a try. That’s especially true if you live in the Oslo or Bergen region, where you are spoilt for choice in terms of live games.

The atmosphere at women’s games is generally a friendly one, with many women and children of all ages in attendance. A kiosk selling pølser, snacks, coffee, and sodas will usually be available.

The best starting point for planning a trip is to take a look at the Toppserien website, where you’ll find the fixture list for the season. Bear in mind that some games later in the year may be moved for TV.

Once you’ve decided on a fixture, check the home team’s website for details on location and tickets. Usually, it’s no problem to find tickets, but it’s a good idea to buy them in advance anyway.

Have you watched any Toppserien games in Norway? I’d love to hear about your experience down in the comments.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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1 thought on “Toppserien: Norway’s Premier League of Women’s Football”

  1. My daughter played for Toppserien for over a decade. She graduated from U. of Minnesota and moved to Norway to play football as she was not done playing . She played for Donn ( Kristiansand…team disbanded after one season), Valerenga, and Amazon ( Grimstad). She lives in Fredrikstad now and married to a Norwegian football player ( he now coaches for FFK). She played with other Americans and many international players while playing for Toppserien. She would say the Norwegian teams were physical and strong. It has been an adventure of a lifetime. We have seen many Toppserien games. She is accurate!!


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