Nerves, that’s what you feel as you run out onto the field. The smell of fresh-cut grass, the darkness of the tunnel gives way to sunshine on your face as you cross the white paint of the line. You know the ba le is about to begin. There’s nothing quite like the first or the last game of a season.
No ma er the game, it’s a fantastic time to be involved in women’s sport. The unprecedented success of our golden girls over the past few years has led us into uncharted territory. One thing is for certain, we’re in a boom, a growth phase for female sport. The announcements keep coming like firecrackers: they’re big, they’re bright and they’re colourful. More money, more sponsors, new leagues; finally we’re all paying a ention.
Women’s football is on that wave and has been for some time and while there will always be goals to kick in terms of equality, this is the first time in the game’s history we have full-time professional players. And slowly, they’re beginning to be provided with full-time support. Coverage on Fox Sports, fanatics like the website TheWomen’s
Game and PFA are giving the girls a voice, a platform, and facilitating the game’s growth.
With record numbers of junior girls playing the game, it will continue to grow. Maybe not the same way some other sports are, but a slow sustained burn will keep the heat on.
The ninth W-League is set to be hot. This year, with all eyes watching, football has the chance to really show off, with the players presented with an opportunity to achieve legend status.
Again the bar is being raised – almost all of the Rio Matildas are returning. The big names like Sam Kerr, Alanna Kennedy, Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord and Michelle Heyman are signed on and the league is a racting new and top-class internationals. Season nine is starting from a benchmark that we’d not witnessed until the introduction of Melbourne City last season. Clubs now know what it takes to be the best, and are slowly but surely investing more and more into the women’s version of the game. The W-League’s also an important step in player pathways, with several young stars making the move each season into the top flight, onto representative honours and presented with opportunities to play globally.
Watching the squads assemble ahead of the first game on November 5, the depth and quality of this season’s W-League is exciting. Fans can’t wait to see if Melbourne City can do it all again, undefeated, or if Sydney FC and Canberra United learnt enough last season to topple the defending champs. No doubt there will be a few upsets and there’s always the team which surprises everyone, even the experts. Goals will be scored, the next superstar uncovered and that player who’s been around for years but never really stood out before will get her chance to shine.
That’s the best thing about stepping over that white line: nerves turn into adrenaline, practice turns into performance, and the ba le for silverware begins.
Women’s football is on a wave and has been for sometime.
Melbourne City after winning their semi over Brisbane Roar ... and ready to go again.