With two mouth-watering clashes in store for the Westfield W-League Semi Finals this weekend, there is every reason for fans to watch.
Show your colours at the Westfield W-League Semi Finals this weekend. Get down to QSAC to see Premiers Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC. Then on Sunday the action is at nib Stadium where Perth Glory host Melbourne Victory.
You can also watch both games live on ABC1 at 4pm.
With two mouth-watering clashes in store for the Westfield W-League Semi Finals this weekend, there is every reason for fans to watch. Football competitions don-t come any tighter than this W-League season and the league as a whole has moved to a new level.
However, one thing is still missing - support in numbers from the public. Many speak of the importance of female engagement in football, as both players and as fans, but to really make a mark, the league needs more. More promotion and more coverage, absolutely, but to give the game a voice in the fight for those commodities requires more bums on seats and more eyeballs watching.
The coverage will be live on ABC TV this weekend, with both semi-final matches broadcast in full, along with the Grand Final, the following Sunday.
Equally important, the matches scheduled this weekend offer a perfect opportunity for clubs to promote the women-s game, and for fans to vote for the league with their feet, by turning up to watch.
For a club that once distanced itself from their female counterparts, Perth Glory are now showing plenty of support. Coach Jamie Harnwell is full of praise for the initiative being shown.
“We are planning a ‘Purple Sunday- in the hope that nib stadium will be full of fans going for Glory. Perth Glory members will be admitted free, while anyone purchasing a ticket to the A-League game coincidentally also between Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory at nib Stadium on saturday night, can use that ticket to access the women-s match the day after”.
Harnwell is thrilled with the performance of his side this season, but after the frustrating draw with Newcastle in Round 11, which saw the Glory relinquish their hold on the Premiership, he was expecting to travel to Melbourne this weekend. That was before Victory stumbled at the same hurdle in Round 12.
“We would have loved to finish top - every club would like to know that they-ve been the best over the regular season, but that was a good wake-up call for our side, and the big one is still up for grabs”.
“We-ve got Lisa De Vanna back from suspension this week, she-s one of the best in the league and probably the world. She is raring to go, and getting a home final has given the side a big boost ahead of Sunday.”
It-s now Victory ruing the missed opportunity to bring the game to their fans at home. After a season of trials and tribulations, culminating in the departure of coach, Mike Mulvey, to the A-League after Round 10, the Victory have responded in spectacular style.
New coach Fabrizio Soncin says the season has been a triumph over adversity.
”Firstly, we-re pleased that we-ve been able to overcome all those difficulties. This is the highest we-ve ever finished in a season, and while we are disappointed that we didn-t get a home final, we are in the finals so that-s another tick. Also, our football continues to improve - even though we-ve lost strong players, we-ve continued to play great football.”
“It-s said there is no gain without pain, and we-ve been through the pain, so now it-s all gain”
Either way, the winner of this match will have the chance to put a brand new name on the W-League Trophy.
Their Grand Final opposition though, is guaranteed to be tough. Both Brisbane and Sydney have a plethora of finals experience and if the corresponding fixture last season is anything to go by, this one will be a doozy.
Each side boasts a number of Matildas in their ranks, though it was Brisbane-s win over Melbourne in Round 6 - with six internationals missing - that marked a turning point for the side, according to Roar coach Belinda Wilson.
“That win gave us the belief in ourselves which had been missing since the beginning of the season. Since then we have grown in confidence, and we-ve been tweaking a few things with our combinations which have really paid off.”
“I-m expecting it to be a physical encounter on Saturday and have no doubt that the likes of Tameka Butt, Katrina Gorry, Vedrana Popovic and Amy Chapman will be targeted. We really want a home Grand Final, so hopefully everyone keeps a cool head…and stays on the park”.
Meantime, with every Brisbane Roar side at home this weekend, the men are getting behind their W-League team. The National Youth League match has been moved to an earlier kick off, and fans there will be offered transport to the W-League game. The A-League lads are also supporting the Roar ladies, with rumours that a few might even be on water duty.
Sydney FC coach Alen Stajcic acknowledges that playing an away final is always difficult, but he is expecting anyone in Sky Blue at QSAC to make plenty of noise.
“Most of the stand will be orange, and rightly so, but we will have fans there, and you-ll definitely be able to hear them.”
Sydney FC have appeared in every finals series since the league began, but there were nervous moments this time as they took qualification right down to the wire. With all the pre-season changes to his side, Stajcic says he-s extremely proud of what the team has achieved.
“We had 12 new players brought into the squad this season, and a lot of our players are very young, so for this group to have qualified is an outstanding effort.”
“It-s always a good contest when we play Brisbane, but if we play to our potential, we-ll give them a good fight and I-m confident we can win it.”