joey lynchAustralian correspondent9 minute read
The moment is almost at hand, the Women’s World Cup It is almost here and those who make the pilgrimage Down Under to see it are landing in ever greater numbers. And if you’re one of those heading to Oz for the tournament, or just looking to excel in group chat, then ESPN has you covered with a guide to soccer in Australia, with a bit of New Zealand too.
A very brief history of women’s football in Australia
There have been reports of the formation of “ladies” teams in New South Wales since 1903, but the first confirmed public football match between women’s teams took place in Brisbane in 1921, when the North Brisbane XI defeated the South Brisbane XI. 2-0 in what is now known as the Gabba in front of over 10,000 people. Australia’s first formally formed women’s team, the LaTrobe Ladies, was founded soon after, while there were reports of games taking place in New Zealand at the same time. However, with both countries being part of the British Empire, the 1921 move by the English Football Association effectively denied women the ability to play organized football for half a century, strangling any sense of nascent drive.
Come the 1970s, however, change was afoot. In August 1974, the first National Women’s Soccer Championship was held in Sydney, featuring teams from NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. Meetings during that week led to the creation of the Australian Women’s Soccer Association (AWSA) and a year later, an Australian team participated in an unofficial Women’s Asian Championship.
The first team officially recognized by Football Australia took the field in 1978 at a Women’s World Invitational Tournament, playing a series of “B” internationals against clubs, before playing their first official international the following year against New Zealand at Seymour Shaw Park in Sydney, with the game ending in a 2–2 draw.
Australia it was then one of 12 nations that participated in a 1988 FIFA Women’s Invitational tournament, an experimental precursor to the first official Women’s World Cup, but subsequently missed out on a place in the first official Women’s World Cup proper when they lost by margin. of goals for New Zealand in the Oceania Cup. Australia would subsequently go on to top New Zealand at the 1995 Oceania Cup, their first piece of continental silverware, to qualify for the 1995 Women’s World Cup and start a run in which they have qualified for every iteration since.
What is the best women’s league in Australia?
The top women’s leagues in Australia and New Zealand are one and the same: the counting teams of the Australian and Kiwi A-Leagues wellington phoenix Enter your number. Operating without a promotion and relegation system, similar to the American one MLS and NWSLfranchises in the A-Leagues operate under a one-club model in which they field both men’s and women’s teams in the A league men and Women’s A League competencies respectively.
The ALW’s first season took place in 2008–09 under the then Football Federation Australia (now Football Australia), with eight teams playing a 10-round season and filling the void left when Women’s National Soccer League collapsed along with its male counterpart. in 2004.
After many years of bitter fighting between various stakeholders over the future of the league, the current operators of the A-Leagues, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL), took control of the competitions in 2021.
There was a rocky start in charge of the APL, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic putting significant pressure on the league and its finances. Then things started out rather promisingly in 2022-23, only for tensions between admins and supporters to come to a boil over a sudden and surprise move to break with the tradition of granting hosting rights for Major Leagues. Finals of the leagues for sporting merit and instead sell them to NSW Tourism Agency Destination NSW for three seasons. Discontent over visibility, working conditions, scheduling, and fan engagement are also lingering issues.
However, while a trust deficit remains between the league and its core supporters, the APL has made a significant contribution to women’s football since it took over. after admitting western united in 2022-23, the Central Coast MarinersEntry in 2023-24 will see the ALW expand to 12 teams and, for the first time for any of Australia’s major “football” sports (rugby union, Rugby League, australian rules and Soccer) compete in a full season of roundtrip.
Additionally, the APL will move to 14 clubs over the next few years, as well as plans to double the number of New Zealand-based teams in the competition: Auckland named along with Canberra (which will absorb the ALW independent team’s spot). united canberra) as a target expansion city for the 2024-25 season.
For the most part, ALW players still need secondary income to supplement their football and many still play in their local National Premier League for Women (NPLW) competitions in the off-season but, thanks to a five-year CBA negotiated between the league and the Professional Footballers Australia players union, the minimum salary for an ALW player increased from AU$16,344 to AU$20,608 for the 2022-23 season and will grow in line with the expansion of the leagues to AU$25,000 in 2023- 24. Full-time professionalism stands as the next frontier for the league.
Who should I meet from the A-League Women?
Sydney FC are the most successful ALW team in the competition’s history and secured a Premiership-Championship double during the most recent season: defeating Western United 4-0 at the Parramatta Stadium in Sydney. sprinter cortnee vine he started that game for Sky Blues and is also expected to start for Tony Gustavsson’s Matildas in the WWC.
Winning the Julie Dolan Medal as the best player in the league for her work with melbourne victory while on loan from louisville racing, Alex Chidiac also worked his way into Matildas’ WWC squad from the back of his ALW game, as did West Sydney Tramps advocate clear huntingthat started with alana kennedy in Australia’s final warm-up match against France last Friday. midfield axis Katrina Gorry also spent time with brisbane roar before cutting his season short to return to Swedish team Vittsjo GIK.
Every member of the Matildas WWC team at one point or another in their development played in the ALW, unsurprisingly from the premier national league of a relatively advanced soccer nation, but since the end of their 2019-20 season, when Steph Catley led Melbourne City to a title, it has become more of a proving ground for future Matildas.
In the past, Matildas and international stars have often taken advantage of the back-to-back nature of the two leagues’ seasons to split their time between the American NWSL and the ALW, bringing a lot of power and star quality to the league. City’s 2020 crown, for example, featured seven Matildas, international Kiwi rebekah stott, Japan representative yukari kingaand Scotland star claire emslie in his starting eleven.
Now, however, the rise of fully-professional and well-resourced European leagues has seen much of that talent, particularly senior Matildas, find its way to the continent and the ever-increasing length of the ALW season will collide. increasingly with NWSL club schedules. .
This, combined with expansion creating multiple rosters of new positions to fill, has seen the age profile of the ALW drop dramatically in recent years, as well as an indication of a change in the type of international players who may be looking for a downward movement. ; Western United Imports Hillary Bell and sydney cummings they came to the ALW as NWSL fringe types, only to record breakout seasons and build up their stock.
What else is going on in Australian rules football?
The A-Leagues are played in the Southern Hemisphere summer, bringing them in line with the major leagues in Europe and ensuring that they did not need to be suspended for the duration of WWC.
However, winter NPL state and semi-professional and amateur league competitions across the country will continue as the WWC comes to town – its community-supported nature and issues with the availability of grounds and players in the event of getting too close to summer. unfeasible pause.
Additionally, the Australian Cup, a nationwide men’s knockout competition similar to England’s FA Cup, will play two playoff games based on ALM and its Round of 32 in the coming weeks. Football Australia introduced a women’s Australia Cup that was planned for 2024 to much fanfare in March, however the federation’s recent release of next year’s domestic match schedule made no mention of the competition.
Speaking to ESPN, Football Australia CEO James Johnson said the ongoing nature of these competitions would add another layer of football available to fans already involved in WWC proceedings, helping to capitalize on all the looks that are turning. towards the world game in the next month. He also clarified that while the sheer scale involved had made things difficult, Football Australia had worked with state-based member associations, who control their local NPLs and state leagues, to try to avoid clashes with local WWC games, especially those involving the Matildas.
What else is going on in major Australian sports?
For the NRL, which also plays on a rectangular field and has several teams whose home grounds are used as WWC headquarters or training bases, this has forced the relocation of multi-team games during the tournament to interstate, regional and non-regional grounds. traditional. while the tournament lasts.
However, the AFL, which plays in oval venues, has not lost any of its stadiums or training venues in the Women’s World Cup and will play throughout the tournament without adjustments.
In Europe, Australia’s women’s cricket team will conclude their Ashes series with England when the Women’s World Cup begins, but the men will play tests at Old Trafford and The Oval for the duration of the tournament.