Western Sydney’s clash against bitter rivals Sydney FC this weekend at ANZ Stadium will take on greater significance than a local derby. The ladies game will kick off at 7.30pm on Saturday night in what is shaping up to be a prime time classic.
The A-League game between the two clubs kicks off earlier at 5.05pm in a derby double header.
This is the first time the women’s Sydney derby will be played after the men, ensuring a decent crowd to watch the ladies in action.
Aish Ravi, a women’s football coach and academic who is completing a doctorate on women’s coaching, praised the move.
“It is important more women are visible in sport,” said Ravi. “It’s great the women are being given this opportunity, their talents will be on display for all to see and support in prime time!”
The W-League averaged crowds of around 1,500 last season, with kick off-times and venues sighted as a major reason for low crowd numbers.
TV audiences were through the roof though with 879,000 tuning in for the entire season. This Saturday night’s game is being telecast live on Fox Sports 503.
Ravi emphasised the importance of giving women footballers exposure, with the W-League still a semi-professional competition.
“These women are incredible, they work and train incredibly hard,” said Ravi. “They often play and train whilst juggling full time/ part time work commitments. That is inspirational!
“If we can give them exposure, it will help generate revenue and build their profile which will mean they can make a decent living from football.
”It is equally important that we want all our youth to know that regardless of your gender, you have the same opportunities to play sport and succeed on the big stage!”
The Wanderers go into the game seeking to redeem themselves after a 3-0 loss three weeks ago in Round One against the Sky Blues.
The Red & Black beat Newcastle Jets 2-1 two weeks ago in their second game. The Sky Blues also beat the Jets by the same scoreline last weekend.
The Wanderwomen have been powered this year by the youngsters with goalkeeper Courtney Newbon leading the league with 11 saves. Rosie Galea netted a double against the Jets while defender Margaux Chauvet has been impressive in the opening two games of her career.
Sydney FC’s opening two wins see them second on the ladder. Princess Ibini netted a double against the Wanderers in the opening round and will be once again a threat. Former Wanderer Cortnee Vine has also started the season well for the Sky Blues and forms a formidable presence up front with Ibini.
Ravi predicts a tough game but thinks the Wanderers will come out on top.
“I hope they win! I think they will! I’ve been communicating with Cath Cannuli (Wanderers assistant coach) and she’s been prepping the team hard with Dean Heffernan. It will be a great game and a great night.”