Another season is over, and the cycle starts all over again. Back to club football while the W-league takes a back seat until August.
Unlike other W-League/NTC programs who have a full year program, Adelaide does not seem to provide their players with the same opportunity (unless you are under the age of 17).
Is it that there are not enough opportunities? A lack of man power to try to work towards the same standards created by the top level clubs such as Roar and Sydney FC? Behind the scenes support?
As a senior Lady red, it is constantly a question that needs to be asked, and a huge frustration in finding an answer.
The W-league squad members no longer have somewhere to train and continue developing as a team on and off the playing field. All the players are evenly spread out across the local women’s premier league clubs (which is totally understandable by making the competition fair).
But on the other hand it means the girls have gone back to their local clubs to train with; coaches who may or may not have much experience/quality, a mixture of players at all different levels; in some instances girls that are only their for the social side of things; and this can become very frustrating.
I’m sure any athlete in any sport who has been playing at a high level, then having to drop back down can relate to. The difference is our lower level is significantly lower than the rest of the states in Australia.
NSW, Queensland and Victoria for instance have a larger population, meaning more girls are playing the game, meaning the girls have tougher competition across the board.
Career spans of South Aussie female footballers is often cut short (19 years of age) because there is not enough football at the required high level played during the year, which have huge ramifications for W-league preparations.
This is unfortunate as looking at the photo to the left, many of the players could still be featuring in the W-league.
There are only two players in that photo that are still currently playing the game we love; one being Collette McCallum (Perth Glory and the Matildas) and the other Stacy Day (Newcastle Jets).
Also due to the lack of opportunity here in South Australia, we find our players look to move interstate (Stacy Day), US college system (Nicole Calder, Katherine Ebs, Lilly Rydon) or overseas clubs (Racheal Quigley) to find the opportunities they strive for.
How do we keep the “older” yet experienced players in the game, in our state, in our country?
These players are the role models for our younger generation.
These are the players the younger generation look up to and learn immensely from. Emma Checker has done an amazing job to make her Matildas debut last year but again she is only young and still needs to gain experience.
Who is her local role model that she can follow day in and day out? Where are the female footballing role models with the same calibre as Di Alagich, Sharon Black, Kristyn Swaffer, Stacy Stocco, Emma Wirkus, Christina Papageorgiou?
They exist, and they are here, but there is no current environment available for them to present themselves.