We are six months away from a home Women’s World Cup.
A chance to cement a legacy for years to come, to spark a chance for young girls to be immersed in the great game of football for the rest of their lives.
Yet, following the decision to move from the Australian Professional Leagues to move the A-Leagues Grand Finals to Sydney, the viability for A-League Women competition the long-term is worryingly on the edge.
The competition started the season in brilliant fashion, with the introduction of DUBZONE bringing fans closer to the action, while the on-field action has been great to watch also.
Western United have been perhaps the feel-good story; a win in their inaugural match over reigning two-time champions Melbourne Victory, as well as their late show against Adelaide earlier this month, standing out.
It was a key pillar in what has been such a brilliant period for Australian women’s sport, including the Matildas’ recent resounding win over Sweden that saw fans flock to AAMI Park.
22,000 fans converged to watch Tony Gustavsson’s charges play dazzling, free-flowing football in Melbourne that day, illustrating the appetite for women’s sport here in Australia is there in full force.
Couple that with the fact an AFLW final across the way at Punt Road clashed simultaneously and the attendance may well have been higher.
Log into Twitter at any time over the last few days, and you see fans getting nostalgic and reminiscing over A-League Men’s Grand Finals in years gone by.
Rightly, the Victory star who won the premiership against one of the club’s arch-rivals, and a Sydney FC goalkeeper’s Grand Final heroics, spring to mind.
For every Terry Antonis, there is a Kyra Cooney-Cross.
For every Andrew Redmayne, there is a Jada Whyman.
The league has provided its hardcore and devoted fans so many amazing moments, far extending from the two mentioned above, and it would be a travesty to see them stolen from us.
These fans have not remained silent this week either, with supporter groups across the league uniting in a joint statement.
”We, the collection of A-League (sic) Women active supporters’ groups, are incredibly disappointed and disheartened with today’s announcement that the grand final will be held in Sydney for the next three years,” the statement started.
Fans are not the only stakeholders displeased with the announcement either, as some of the league’s brightest stars have voiced their disapproval publicly.
Melbourne Victory’s Maja Markovski commented “Big L” underneath the A-Leagues’ official Instagram post announcing the move, while Matildas star Remy Siemsen revealed her quotes included in the official promotion video were taken out of context, in a similar vein to Socceroos World Cup hero Craig Goodwin.
A post by the A-Leagues, since removed, showed the signatories of the deal, the board members holding up the APL who helped the deal get through.
Names of 11 men were present, not a woman in sight.
A league of women, at the mercy of men.
While all 11 did not vote in favour of sending the showpiece games to New South Wales, the lack of female representation within the ranks is alarming.
It is also worth mentioning all of these players are part-time, meaning if the league falls flat, a key source of income is removed.
The Women’s World Cup will be a resounding success, of that there seems to be no doubt.
It may not matter if these actions mean we do not have a league to continue that success in.