Since the days of Ellyse Perry committing to the Australian women's cricket team, we've seen the battle of the codes hit fever-pitch in the women's game.

Melbourne Victory recently made headlines by securing AFLW star Jenna McCormick for the upcoming W-League season, with McCormick - fresh from a Matildas camp - saying she was fully focused on football now in the hopes of representing the national team.

The opportunities for women to make a living across any sport they choose have never been greater, and the pressure on each sport to keep their most talented athletes is following suit.

Adelaide United coach Ivan Karlovic is witnessing the changes in women's sport first-hand. As boss of some of the brightest young footballers in the country, he says the demands and the benefits of semi-professional women's sport will soon make those choices impossible.

"The days off cross-code or dual sport athletes are numbered," he told The Women's Game.

"The demands from each code are quite significant.

"In regards to players swapping codes, the minimum wage has increased and that helps if you want to keep young athletes in the game. Australia is showing that we're on the international stage which helps, because not every code is able to offer that."

As for how the W-League keeps its best young stars? For that question, Karlovic is a little more coy.

"Look, I'm not sure how to ensure we keep players in the W-League. It's going to be a challenge," he admits.

"But I think as all the sports evolve, it's going to be more difficult to change, because the quality will be a lot higher."


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Karlovic is looking forward to a record-breaking W-League season, in which the importance of succeeding on the domestic stage has a bigger impetus than ever.

The W-League season is sandwiched in between the two biggest women's sporting competitions on the planet, the World Cup and Tokyo Olympics.

Karlovic says the quality of these athletes is improving out of sight.

"I think it's certainly improving," he says. "The standard is definitely improving, the level of performances are improving.

"But it's really important we don't rest on that, because the rest of the world is going forward in leaps and bounds in women's football.

"Australia were pioneers in the W-League, establishing quite some time ago. So that means we have to continuously improve to make sure we don't get left behind."

From the international stage to the City of Churches, Karlovic is primarily focused on what's right in front of him: a pressure-cooker season with Adelaide, where despite a young squad announcement so far, fans will expect results.

Some W-League coaches have spoken to TWG in the off-season, remarking on the effect that the delayed W-League fixture and schedule announcements have had on their pre-season preparations.

But Karlovic isn't letting it disrupt his side too heavily. Despite a remarkable turnaround last season, Adelaide have a lot to accomplish in the off-season if they're going to build on their momentum and avoid slipping back down the table.

"It would be nice to be able to have a fixture, but from our end it's not something that I've focused a lot on," Karlovic said.

"We know that we have our pre-season and we're looking to prepare as best we can, sometimes there's things out of our control so I don't want to spend too much of my energy on that.

"I want to focus on how we can improve. I agree with the other coaches in that it would be nice if the fixtures came out, but they're not, so we continue to work."