While positive about the current standard our premier women’s domestic competition, the 40-year-old has warned of the emerging danger of our best players heading overseas to bigger European leagues, which coincides with the current W-League calendar.
“The televised games I’ve seen have been great quality, the players are amazing considering the conditions they play under - extreme weather, short season, small pay, high expectations,” said Peters.
“I’ve always thought it deserves a full season though, especially when the goal is to be World Champions.
“I played the first W-League season and 10 years later it hasn’t grown? Won’t be long before all our best players follow Sam Kerr overseas and we’ll be left with a development league which has merit if that’s you want, but then your goals need to change.”
Peters, who was capped 110 times for Australia in a glittering 14 year career, played with the Newcastle Jets in the inaugural W-League season in 2008.
She is widely regarded as one of the greatest midfielders Australia has ever produced, going to three World Cups and playing in South America and the USA.
After starting out at Northern NSW Pride in the old Women’s National Soccer League, Peters went on to play for New York Power in the USA and Santos in Brasil.
Peters was looking forward to the upcoming Olympic qualifiers in China, with the Matildas playing the hosts, Thailand and Chinese Taipei in the group phase with the top two teams going through to a playoff round against the top two teams from the other group featuring Vietnam, Myanmar and South Korea. North Korea pulled out last last year.
Whilst confident we have the rights players to make it to Tokyo 2020, Peters was worried about the infighting that plagued our preparations for the 2019 World Cup campaign in France.
“It’s going to be harder to qualify than we think,” admitted Peters. “We dont like to remember we nearly didn’t qualify for France 2019.
“The Matildas are still in a transition period of their culture and coaches dominating the narrative too much.
“We have such quality players who are now so experienced and know each other so well, I’d love to see them be given more freedom to connect and play with confidence.
“Hopefully this is the tournament we start seeing the Matildas potential shine through.”
Peters, who retired in 2009 despite being voted Australian Women’s Player for the Year that same year, coached the Australian Under 16’s girls team shortly after her retirement.
While it has been over 10 years since she stopped playing, the Newcastle native is still as passionate as ever about the world game.
She has now turned her attention to working with children. The mother of eight is heavily involved in her sports program, GAME PLAY LEARN (GPL). The program is designed to bring the fun back into sports including football.
“I’m really excited to share my coaching philosophy with people,” she explained. “The kids and parents are loving it.
“As the name suggests, Game Play Learn basically means Learning through playing games but the learning is hidden in having FUN.
“Kids don’t want boring drills and bossy adults telling them what to do, the dropout rates are telling us that.
“Yet there are so many benefits to playing Games, particularly small sided games where there’s still plenty of repetition but it’s in Game situations so they’re not just learning technical skills but social and strategic skill as well.
“We underestimate kids capabilities, GPL is about nurturing each child’s passion and potential for sport. Of course my favourite sport is football but it’s also important to encourage kids to explore a variety of games.
“Frisby and Pogosticks are a big hit!”
Peters insisted a fun environment is the key to the program, admitting that parents and kids alike are engaging well.
“Parents love it because they see their kids grow in confidence and skills as well as being passionate about keeping active and exploring what their unique passion and potential really is.
“The kids love the freedom to have fun with friends yet still enjoy the challenge of a competitive game. Parents just love seeing they’re kids happy and confident.”