Silver Lake Manna Only Highlights Need for Round-Trip ALW Season | Women’s A League

Welcome to the A-Leagues, the new land of milk and honey. Or, perhaps more to the point, the land of $ 130 million in funding from a US-based global technology investment firm.

Australia’s professional leagues, capitalizing on its newfound independence and operational and commercial control over the national elite, said on Tuesday it had sold a 33.3% stake to Silver Lake. The deal, which values ​​the PLA’s properties at around $ 425 million, places the organization in a Silver Lake investment portfolio that also includes The Madison Square Garden Company and City Football Group.

Given that football has long been the rejection of the Australian sports sponsorship scene, this bonus has, unsurprisingly, been greeted with all kinds of enthusiasm in the football landscape. According to reports, the PLA has adopted an eight-pronged strategy to channel funds towards big name names, resuscitation of youth football and increased investment in digital marketing and content – which would have something to do with it. TikTok. Football Australia, which retains a “good game” non-financial minority stake in the leagues, is expected to use its fragment of the sale to push forward plans to introduce a men’s second national division and a women’s FFA Cup.

The APL is already set to expand the A-League Women’s competition next season to 12 teams with the addition of Western United and Central Coast Mariners and has also announced new investments in women’s football. Increasingly, however, questions of expansion or new cup competitions across the space only serve to place more emphasis on the absence of what is women’s football’s most pressing need in Australia: a full season round trip for the ALW and year round – opportunities for women footballers in elite environments.

“First of all, we have to extend the season,” city coach Rado Vidošić said midweek. “I think you have to do this ALW competition full time. We have to extend the season, they have to train professionally all year round. I think this is the first step.

“For me that doesn’t work, sending 18 or 19 year old girls overseas, and they don’t play and just sit on the bench. There are a lot of girls playing overseas who would love to come home and play for their hometown.

While it must be recognized that fully professional facilities don’t grow on trees, and football has never had an AFL-style war chest to guarantee its competitions, the void that a lack of 52-week women’s programs in Australia – in a local and international context – is evident.

An FFA Women’s Cup, for example, faces the problem that, due to the lack of year-round football at ALW level, the majority of its female players spend their off seasons playing with the very clubs that would apparently face it. to professional teams in the national scenes and to provide the competition with its biggest selling point. To illustrate this, on Sunday afternoon, the NPLW Victoria, Calder United and South Melbourne teams faced off in the Nike FC Cup final – a state knockout competition whose decision maker was delayed by Covid. – but did so without the service of regulars Melina Ayres, Catherine Zimmerman and Melissa Barbieri due to their ALW duties.

Moreover, as another wave of Covid seizes Australia and plunges sports leagues into chaos, the only ALW player to have tested positive so far has reportedly done so “in relation to with his non-football workplace “. While it only seems like a matter of time until an ALW player picks up a case from a cafe, supermarket, or gas station, hers is a case that would have been avoided altogether had she done so. part of a full-time professional environment and not forced to juggle football and an outside career.

On Wednesday it was announced that Dylan Holmes is set to return to Adelaide United after a draw with BK Häcken in Sweden’s Damallsvenskan, in which the 24-year-old played 261 combined minutes in 10 appearances. While she has given a significant boost to the Reds’ 2021-22 campaign, she is the latest player to leave Australia’s part-time professionalism and head to Europe, only to find that the grass is not always greener.

In 2020, Jenna McCormick, following a campaign with Melbourne Victory that earned her a first Matildas cap, signed with Real Betis from Primera División only to experience a horror stint in which she “didn’t. got the respect I deserved as a footballer – or as a human first, then as a footballer later ”. Emma Checker also returned in 2020, partly citing City’s superior medical standards after sustaining an injury in France that later became a stress fracture in her fibula.

“I think Australia is going to struggle to build a strong cohort of players until 2023 because we can’t get them to play in high quality environments,” said Victory director of football John Didulica. . “We have to meet [players] halfway there, and it’s having journeys within A-League clubs and within state structures that girls can stay with their club and improve week after week, year after year. There are simply not enough quality environments in Europe to give women the structure and pathways they need to be successful.

Will it be easy? No. Will it be cheap? No. But the development of Australian football over the past week once again demonstrates the urgency surrounding the introduction of a full season home and away for the Women’s A-League.

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