Westfield W-League draw released

The new national women's football competition, the Westfield W-League, is a step closer today with the release of the draw for the inaugural season by Football Federation Australia (FFA).

The new national women's football competition, the Westfield W-League, is a step closer today with the release of the draw for the inaugural season by Football Federation Australia (FFA).

The first round of the Westfield W-League will be held on 25-26 October with the opening match between Perth Glory and Sydney FC at Members Equity Stadium to be televised live.

"The Westfield W-League gives talented women players the opportunity to improve their skills and gain valuable match practice in a high quality competition," said FFA CEO, Ben Buckley.

"The Westfield W-League will also provide a clear development pathway to the three national women's teams."

Buckley said that women-s football has enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 6.3% over the past five years and is the fastest growing team sport for girls and women in the country.

"There are 100,000 registered female football players involved in formal competition, and we estimate there are even more who play informally."

He said that women's football is in a growth phase internationally as well.

"In the past 12 months, the Westfield Matildas, Westfield Young Matildas and Westfield Under 17 Women played 30 international matches in countries as diverse as China, Brazil, New Zealand, Vietnam and the USA to name just a few.

"We expect the Westfield W-League to be a big contributor to improved performances on the world football stage for Australia's women's teams."

Eight teams will compete in the Westfield W-League - one from each of the seven Australian Hyundai A-League teams, with Canberra United rounding out the draw.

Other match-ups for Round 1 of the Westfield W-League include:

* Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners at Telstra Dome, also on 25 October at 4.00pm AEDT as a curtain-raiser for the Hyundai A-League match

* Queensland Roar v Adelaide United at Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre at 5.00pm local on 25 October, and

* Newcastle Jets v Canberra United at Wanderers Oval, Broadmeadow, at 1.30pm AEDT on 26 October.

As well as the four grounds used in Round 1, games will also be held at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide, Bob Jane Stadium and Epping Stadium in Melbourne, Spencer Park and Perry Park in Brisbane, McKellar Park in Canberra, Parramatta Stadium and Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney and Oakes Oval at Lismore.

The Westfield W-League 2009 finals series will be contested by the top four teams at the end of the ten-round competition, with the Grand Final to be held on Saturday 17 January.

Buckley said that arrangements are in place for a host broadcaster for the Westfield W-League with the broadcaster set to make an announcement later in the month.