If I was to draw out a general theme of my existence as a football fan of late, it would be that of following teams other than my own. Since the All Whites failed to qualify for the World Cup, I’ve been progressively aligning myself with the Croatian team-I have Croatian family on my mother’s side. When the A-League somehow managed to be sufficiently inept as to cancel the Nix’s game at Western Sydney, I turned my attention to my second team, the Newcastle Jets. Finally, I have recently become a true fan of the Australian women’s football set up. Two nights ago, the Matildas completely outclassed China 3-0. Two of the goals can only be described as ‘worldies’. Sam Kerr reaffirmed to me that she is setting the standard right now, scoring the opener and smashing in an absolute screamer to put the result beyond doubt. Of course, Australia had class across the 11, and on the bench for good measure. Right now, the Matildas are on top of the world and it is showing in their fan base. Look at this awesome tweet that I came across today:
I have already talked at length about the Matildas in another post, however, and today I want to focus on the league that feeds the Australians’ dominant national team: the W-League. If you’re short for time, I’ll spare you some now. My main point here is that if you don’t watch the W-League you should.
Created in 2008, the W-League has 9 teams. All of them are affiliated with A-League clubs except for Canberra United. Most of the current Matildas squad turn out for a W-League side. That means that it’s a high quality competition. To add to that, as the league improves its reputation year to year, there is a growing contingent of overseas players who travel to the Southern Hemisphere during their off-seasons. Notably, a large number of NWSL players have signed for Australian sides. Sam Kerr, who also plays in the USA for Sky Blue FC, said recently that a lot of her American counterparts wanted to come and play seriously in Australia, leading to competition for the limited import places. She also said that where the league had previously been viewed as something of a summer holiday, it now held its own against the NWSL.
As far as I am concerned, she’s completely correct. The football is fast, physical, skilful and exciting. This year it’s better than ever, because of the influx of quality from overseas and the development of phenomenal Australian talent. The W-League is, therefore, checking two of the major boxes for any domestic league. It is good enough to attract foreign talent, and a strong enough development league for the national team.
If you want to watch the W-League in New Zealand, there is a way. If you have Sky, the games are shown on the same channels as the A-League games that usually follow soon thereafter. There are games on tonight and tomorrow. I strongly recommend it. A key argument against paying women footballers more is that they do not attract strong television viewership. Here is a chance to put an end to that issue, and to enjoy some awesome football at the same time.
While we are talking about domestic leagues that we need to be supporting, New Zealand’s Women’s National League is heading into its final regular season round this weekend. I’ve linked the schedule here so you can see what’s happening in or around your centre. Last weekend I went and watched an admittedly interrupted and injury-plagued match between Capital and Northern (I hope all involved are recovering well) but regardless of the stoppages, there was still awesome football on display. We want to make this League longer and stronger, and having more support on the weekend is a good start.
There is a lot of awesome stuff going on in the world of women’s football right now. The Ferns are in Thailand ahead of a couple of matches there, the Matildas will play China again soon and as I’ve said, New Zealand and Australia’s domestic leagues are well worth a watch. These are exciting times indeed and also, there’s no better way to soothe the disappointment of failing to qualify for Russia than to watch more football.
A lover of the game since the age of 4. Living and playing for club and school in Auckland and loving every second on the pitch (apart from the end of a losing match).