Football with style returns

Football with style returns this weekend when Australia’s own national women’s competition, the Westfield W-League, kicks off.

Football with style returns this weekend when Australia-s own national women-s competition, the Westfield W-League, kicks off.

“The first season of the Westfield W-League showed that it is important for talented women footballers and is also important in the national women-s sporting landscape,” said Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO, Ben Buckley.

“The Westfield W-League helps improve the skills and match preparedness of talented women athletes, and gives them greater opportunity to play high quality competitive sport to their potential.

“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 helps 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, Under 17 and Under 13 levels.

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, in a sign of the emerging prestige of the Westfield W-League in women-s football, the competition this season will also include international players from the USA, Denmark and Chinese Taipei.

“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.”

The start of the Westfield W-League follows closely on the recent announcement of Her Excellency the Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC, as the Patron of Women-s Football.

“Around 100,000 women and girls play football in formal competition and even more than that play informally,” Buckley said.

“Women-s football is an important priority for FFA, having enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 6% over the past six years.”

Buckley welcomed the ongoing commitment of Westfield and ABC to the W-League, with one match each week broadcast live and exclusive on ABC1 each Saturday at 3.00pm.

“Obviously, it is a long term objective for anyone involved in women-s sport to increase the level of support from fans, media and the corporate sector and we-re delighted that the ABC and Westfield are leaders in this field.”

The Westfield W-League kicks-off this weekend with a 2008 Grand Final reply on Saturday between Brisbane Roar and Canberra United at Ballymore (3.00pm AEST), and the remaining three matches played as curtain-raisers for the Hyundai A-League match.

* Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory, Etihad Stadium, Saturday 3 October, 4.45pm AEST * Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners, Sydney Football Stadium, Monday 5 October, 12.15pm AEST * Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets, Hindmarsh Stadium, Monday 5 October, 1.45pm local (2.15pm AEST).

The Westfield W-League season continues until the end of the year with a Finals Series to be played in December culminating in the Grand Final on 19 December.