Former Matilda and current Western Sydney Wanderers W-League assistant coach, Catherine Cannuli, is confident women’s football in Australia will overcome the many challenges that lay ahead.
Cannuli, who played well over 100 WNSL/W-League games and won four caps for Australia, insists that women’s football will not lie down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has left the sport in a precarious situation.
“It's a worrying time for all women's sports, but I'm sure our code will do everything it can to support the W-League and its future,” says Cannuli. “We have invested too much to get to where we are today to just let it go.
“Covid-19 will put a dent in a lot of sports and organisations but I'm sure we will all rise again.”
Cannuli is the head coach of the Southern District Raiders in the NSW NPLW and is a Technical Director at Southern Districts Soccer Football Association (SDSFA). The 34-year-old is touted by many as a future W-League coach, and after three years as an assistant at Wanderland is full of praise for the pathway available for women coaches.
“The W-League has been great in supporting women coaches, especially with all teams having to have a female coach on their staff,” says Cannuli.
“In the football world there isn't enough full-time work, but I'm fortunate enough that SDSFA allows me to work in a dual role whilst W-League is running.
“It can be really challenging and hard work juggling between the two but it’s great to have the opportunity.”
Cannuli admits she is excited about the future of the Wanderers, who featured in their first finals series last season.
“Yes, we did have an amazing season, we had built for that season and beyond for a while now.
“All of us on the coaching team and behind the scenes were very committed to putting out a competitive team, and its something that we want to continue with in the future.”
The Wanderers were fighting for top spot with eventual champions Melbourne City for the bulk of the season, but lost their way particularly after the departure of star duo Denise O’Sullivan and Lynn Williams late in the season.
While full of praise for the international stars in the team, Cannuli lamented the gap between the NPLW and the W-League.
“100% our foreigners helped raise the bar in all aspects, but there is a massive gap between the NPLW system and W-League and you see it straight away as soon as they enter the league environment.
“We need to get better resources and make sure all our footballers are being challenged and training in a quality environment.
“There are far too many NPLW teams out there that just concentrate on their first grade teams, where our focus should be on the development of our juniors.”