Caitlin Cooper is one of these veterans and at 32-years-old, just signed on for her seventh season with the Western Sydney Wanderers alongside 19-year-old Young Matilda Susan Phonsongham.

The dichotomy is the perfect representation of what the W-League will represent next season, with the league's biggest stars taking off for European opportunities and leaving a notable divide down the middle tiers.

With the league reeling from the COVID19 pandemic and Fox Sports' pullout of their broadcast deal, there won't be many foreign stars to fill the gap, either.

What's left are the league's older veterans who, like Cooper, have seen it all. These are women who grew up with extremely few opportunities and have, for most of their career, played football entirely out of the spotlight.

They now have the ultimate opportunity to mentor the next Sam Kerrs and Ellie Carpenters, who will be taking to the field alongside them next season in a very different W-League season.

They're a generation of female footballers who have been overlooked by virtually everyone, from the media to sponsors to national teams and even the general public. Cooper is relishing the chance to show everyone just what they've been missing.

“As one of the older players, I want to mentor the next generation of Wanderers and help them to be the best player and person they can be," she said.

"On a team level, I really want to build on what we had last season and I hope we can make everyone proud of our achievements.

"Last season's success came down to the core group of girls who just worked hard for each other and the coaching staff - all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making every session run smoothly."

On a personal level though, there is so much more this season for Cooper than simply imparting her experience on youngsters. Western Sydney have one of the best-stocked talent pathways in the league and right now, that's a bigger advantage than it's ever been.

Add in Cooper's experience and Melbourne City's exodus and you finally have a recipe for the Wanderers' potential championship success.

“The main reason that drove me to re-sign with the club was that I wanted to finish off what we started last year,” said Cooper.

“What head coach Dean Heffernan and his assistants Michael Beauchamp and Catherine Cannuli created is something that the Wander Women have lacked in previous years. 

"On a personal level, I want to get back to enjoying and playing my best football.

“The new facilities that our team had access to at the club’s Centre of Football also gave it a different feel to last season.

“I believe that if we put in as much hard work and show the passion that we had last season, there’s no reason why we can’t go one further this time around.”


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