Our women are worth it
Kyah Simon of Australia holds off Gry Tofte Ims of Norway during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011.
When billionaires Frank Lowy and Nathan Tinkler smoked the peace pipe at the weekend, it would seem the A-League was the only agenda item.
The Football Federation chairman and Newcastle Jets owner had been at loggerheads over the acquisition fee Tinkler and his Hunter Sports Group had paid for the football club.
But mentioned nowhere in dispatches about the pair patching up their differences was the status of the Jets – or any other – W-League team.
While Football Northern NSW is happy to run the Jets women’s team if Tinkler does not, the mining magnate’s stated commitment is to providing pathways for Hunter kids in sport - not just boys.
Rumblings earlier in the year by another rich owner, Tony Sage, about withdrawing his team, Perth Glory, from the W-League seemed to put the idea in others’ minds that having a women’s team was optional. Suddenly, Tinkler was not so committed to his women’s team either.
This was odd: last season he brought in two big name Matildas players - captain Melissa Barbieri and exciting striker Lisa de Vanna. They drew good crowds and the Hunter community adored them.
While the A-League looks as though it will all go ahead next summer - albeit with western Sydney replacing Gold Coast – the make-up of the W-League is less certain.
The only thing that is certain is that there will be a W-League after the Federal Government stepped in to invest in the sport in Sydney’s west, part of which funding was earmarked for the women’s game.
It is unlikely we will see a women’s team in the first year of western Sydney’s existence - it is simply too much work to put together a men’s and women’s operation in six months. But the following year we may well see Matildas striker Kyah Simon, who is from Quakers Hill, leading out a western Sydney women’s team for the first time.
Also this week, Japan has proposed a women’s Asian Champions League, much to the delight of W-League champions Canberra United. They are hoping the FFA approves their participation as the competition will be held during next summer’s W-League.
Japan, the home of the World Cup holders, and Korea are keen for the tournament to go ahead because of strong broadcaster interest. If only FFA bosses and their rich club owners spent more time cooking up better ways to present women’s football and improve players’ skills than bickering about a few million dollars.
While the men’s game in Australia remains more popular; draws more people through the gate and garners more in broadcasting rights revenue, the W-League remains much more important to the Australian team as all national players participate in the W-League.
It’s an investment, not an expense, gentlemen.