Westfield W-League officially launched
Australia’s brand new national league competition – the Westfield W-League
– kicks off this weekend with eight teams from around the country participating.
“This is not only an exciting new era in women’s football, but it’s also another landmark for women’s sport,” said Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO, Ben Buckley.
One match each week from the Westfield W-League will be broadcast live and exclusive on ABC1 each Saturday at 4.00pm.
“The Westfield W-League will help improve the skills and match preparedness of talented women athletes, and give them greater opportunity to play high quality competitive sport to their potential.
“A league for women has been overdue but the time is now right thanks to the support of Westfield, the ABC and the Australian Government."
The Westfield Group's support involves women’s football ranging from the Westfield Championship for Girls, the national women’s teams and the Westfield W-League. The Federal Government also contributed funds towards the cost of establishing a women’s league as part of its 2007 election promises. The ABC is host broadcaster.
“The women’s game globally is growing in popularity and stature and is one of the few sports available for talented women athletes to represent their country from an early age,” said Buckley.
“From a football perspective, the Westfield W-League will help in eliminating a competition gap for our top women players and better prepare them for participation in international competition through the Asian Football Confederation.”
In addition to the Westfield Matildas, FFA also has national women’s teams at Under 20 and Under 17 levels and is set to introduce an Under 13 national team next year.
Many of Australia’s top women players also play in overseas domestic leagues, such as the USA and Norway, and the timing of the Westfield W-League season will enable this to continue.
Buckley said that the Westfield W-League has another dimension, and that is the significant number of women who enjoy watching and playing the sport for fun and to have a healthy lifestyle.
“Almost 100,000 women and girls play football in formal competition and even more than that play informally.”
Buckley said that women’s football is an important priority for FFA, having enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 6.3% over the past five years.
The teams comprising the Westfield W-League are the same as the seven Australian Hyundai A-League teams, as well as a team from Canberra.
“We are developing the concept of the ‘super club’ structure in Australia along the lines of football clubs elsewhere in the world with men’s teams, women’s teams and youth teams,” Buckley said.