The past seven days have been exceptionally busy for the game Down Under. There’s been the celebration of a hundred years since the first women’s football match held in public, a frustrating display from the Matildas, the schedule of the first W-League matches announced along with new signings, kit launches, and an explosive interview from Lisa De Vanna who announced her retirement. Ben Gilby hears from some of the biggest names in Australian women’s football including Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson, Football Australia CEO James Johnson, APL League Commissioner Greg O’Rourke plus all the W-League players and coaches in the news this week.
Above: This week marked the centenary of the first women’s football match played in Australia in front of the public. Photo: Football Queensland.
Football Australia in partnership with its nine Member Federations, yesterday celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the first recorded public women’s football match.
In front of 10,000 people at the Gabba in Brisbane on 24 September 1921, North Brisbane and South Brisbane hit the pitch. With the flame sparked, the subsequent century has seen the women’s game build to unprecedented popularity.
Football Australia CEO, James Johnson reflected on the anniversary for women’s football and the progress achieved since the first days.
“This is an incredible milestone for football in this country. Our game has come so far since the first public match was played at the Gabba in 1921,” said Johnson.
“From the pioneering women of the early 1970s, to the hundreds of thousands involved in playing, coaching, officiating and administration, the contribution of women in football is immeasurable. They have built a wonderful platform for the game which now sees our Commonwealth Bank Matildas as the most recognisable and most loved women’s national team in the country today.
“The participation footprint of the women’s game continues to grow and is vital to the continued growth of Australian football as we build towards becoming the first Australian sport to achieve a 50:50 gender participation balance by 2027, as part of our vision to become the centre of women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Matildas Suffer Defeat in Dublin:
The Republic of Ireland gained a deserved 3-2 win over the Matildas at Tallaght Stadium, Dublin on Tuesday. The Irish took the lead after just three minutes when a curling free-kick from Lucy Quinn hit the left hand post and rebounded off of Matildas goal keeper Mackenzie Arnold and rolled in. The lead lasted for just eight minutes when the impressive 18 year-old Mary Fowler hit a great low shot from outside the box into the net. However, Australia, without several first choice defenders and still sticking with three at the back succumbed to several errors at the back. With 24 minutes on the clock, O’Sullivan’s deflected shot put the Irish back ahead only for Fowler to hit her second in first half stoppage time. There was another defensive calamity for what turned out to be Ireland’s winner just after the break when Louise Quinn escaped her markers at a corner to score.
Head coach Tony Gustavsson made his disappointment clear at the press conference after the game: “It felt like they wanted it more than us and that’s not OK. That hurts, to be honest. We’re the Matildas it’s in our DNA to always give it 100%”
“I need to look myself in the mirror and ask ‘Could I have done something different?’ The stats showed me that we had 50% passing accuracy in the final third. The crossing accuracy was 20%. It’s a reminder that games are won and lost inside the 18 (yard box).
“For defending, I mean, come on, we weren’t even second to the ball. Right now, it’s a big disappointment. We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work ahead of World Cup ’23. Today it was even clearer how much we have to do.
“There are no excuses, we had nine days to prepare. We dominated possession but possession doesn’t win games. We were late to everything in the game from the first whistle. It was Sam Kerr’s hundredth game and we wanted to leave her with good memories. We did not look energised or like we had passion and that is not OK.
“I don’t see any positives at the moment – although at the moment I’m still quite emotional about what happened. Yet, Mary Fowler – wow, her first half was world class. She wasn’t as effective in the second half as we didn’t attack down her part of the pitch. Kyra Cooney-Cross looked like an experienced international player tonight, particularly when she played in the number six role.
“Angie Beard was really impressive in training and she deserved some minutes. She came in and played great with and without the ball. She is a good communicator and brave. That pleases me.
“Chloe Logarzo’s injury (later revealed as an ACL) is definitely not what she needs right now, or what we need right now. She was sparkling in the first half.”
Impetus’ Kieran Yap analyses the game here: The Case For More Game Time For ‘Old’ Young Matildas (wordpress.com)
The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) this week confirmed that the W-League will kick-off on 3rd December.
The season will commence with Wellington Phoenix’s historic first game in the competition, taking on Western Sydney Wanderers Wanderers. Other opening weekend action sees Canberra United hosting Melbourne City, Sydney FC at home to Newcastle Jets, Perth Glory taking on Brisbane Roar and champions Melbourne Victory at home to Adelaide United.
The first four of the W-League will be based on a conference system. The four New South Wales based clubs which includes Wellington Phoenix will play each other in one half of the split. Speaking about the situation that the Phoenix face for their first ever W-League campaign, Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome said: “We always knew our W-League side would be based in Australia for their inaugural season. As a Club we’ve learnt over the past two seasons to be as adaptive and flexible as possible, especially with all the challenges that Covid has thrown at us,” says Dome. All of Phoenix’s opening four matches will be played as double headers with their A-League side’s matches.
Wellington Phoenix’s base of operations and temporary home venue are yet to be confirmed. Additionally, Perth Glory’s home venue is to be announced along with the location for Brisbane Roar’s first home game in round two against the Western Australians.
Due to the present COVID-19 transition plan, only the first four rounds of fixtures have been announced due to state border restrictions. More details about subsequent fixtures will be released later in the year, with restrictions predicted to be eased by the turn of the year.
This season will also feature the inaugural Club Championship, a trophy awarded to the clubs with the most success across both the men’s and women’s leagues.
“Football is back and we can’t wait to get started,” said Leagues Commissioner Greg O’Rourke. “We’ve got more football than ever before, with both an expanded finals series and the addition of Wellington Phoenix to the women’s league.
“We’ve already seen some incredible young talent coming through the League and on to the Olympics, and with those players now more established, we are going to see even more great football stories.
W-League Player Announcements From Clubs:
Canberra United have announced a further two additions to their W-League squad this week as Hayley Taylor-Young and Lauren Keir will once more be in lime green.
First was the news of Taylor-Young’s re-signing. The 19-year-old was a powerhouse off the bench for Canberra United last season, providing energy in often crucial stages of games.
Down 1-0 in their round four match against Perth Glory last season, Taylor-Young was brought in off the bench and immediately made an impact, scoring in the 87th minute to help maintain Canberra’s undefeated record at Viking Park.
“I’m very honoured and excited to be able to play for Canberra again,” Hayley said
“Last year was yet another incredible experience and gave me a huge opportunity to grow as a player.
“I believe it helped me find more confidence in myself.
“Being surrounded by such talented groups has helped me grow into the player I am today and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.
“I want to learn as much as I can from the other girls, form some long lasting friendships and make finals once again.”
Canberra United Head Coach Vicki Linton said it’s great to welcome Hayley back for another year.
“She is a talented young player and it will be good to see her continue developing and to increase her impact in games.”
24-year-old Lauren Keir is also back after making a huge impact in Canberra’s run to finals last season, playing 90 minutes of every match to notch up 1,170 minutes of W-League football in 2020/21.
“Since her debut in 2018, the defender has shown reliability at the back but also made two great goal assists in Season 13 of the W-League, which led to game winning goals.”
Keir said she can’t wait to do it all again this season.
“It means a lot to put the Canberra jersey back on for another season and play for my home town again,” Lauren said.
“I want to play consistent football & help the team go one step further this season.”
Keir is the eighth signing to be announced for the upcoming season, joining Michelle Heyman, Emma Ilijoski, Laura Hughes, Allira Toby, Grace Maher, Keeley Richards and Hayley Taylor-Young.
“I absolutely loved every part of last season & can’t wait to be back working with Vicki, the girls and seeing all our fans again!”
“It is great to re-sign Lauren for the upcoming season, joining the number of Canberra locals in the squad,” Canberra United Head Coach Vicki Linton said.
“Lauren had a good season last year, contributing to our run into the finals. I look forward to working with her again and see her continue her development.”
Melbourne City revealed the return of Melissa Barbieri for her 11th W-League season.
Since joining City in November 2017 on an injury replacement contract, Barbieri has played a massive role in the W-League squad which will continue as a playing Assistant Coach this season.
The veteran has had a big hand in the development and mentorship of City’s goalkeepers and was called into action last season when Player of the Year Teagan Micah went down with injury.
Barbieri played the final four matches of the season and in the process, became the oldest player to play in the W-League.
The 41-year-old clearly hadn’t missed a beat, keeping two clean sheets and showing she is still more than capable when called upon between the sticks.
Head Coach Rado Vidosic said: “We’re always happy to have Melissa at the Club so are excited that she’ll be back again this season.
“She plays a huge role off the field in coaching and mentoring not just our goalkeepers, but the whole squad.
“Her experience and knowledge are vital to the squad and our coaching staff, so we are very happy to have her back.”
Melissa Barbieri was delighted to return to City: “It’s always easy returning home. The location of our training facility has changed but the City family and values remain.
“I’m looking forward to helping all of my new and returning teammates settle in well and create some new memories out here in Casey Fields.
“I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from both Rado and PK, and personally want to help get our team keeping clean sheets again and pushing for a top of the table position.”
Brisbane Roar has given another opportunity to an emerging Queensland talent by signing goalkeeper Mia Bailey to her first W-League deal for the upcoming season.
The Cairns-born Junior Matilda becomes the 11th confirmed member of Garrath McPherson’s squad and second shot-stopper alongside fellow Future Matildas player Georgie Worth.
“It’s so surreal. It’s a been a dream since I started playing football when I was five years old,” said Bailey, who is completing her final year of high school. “I’ve just been working hard. I moved to Brisbane when I was 14. I’ve done some training sessions with a couple of girls up in Cairns and to see how happy football makes them makes me work even harder.”
“The Junior Matildas and Future Matildas processes are quite similar to the W-League. Garrath has been my coach since Under-15s in the QAS and I know a few of the players in the squad. I’ve trained with Georgie and she’s been an inspiration to me – it’s really good to work with someone who works hard and pushes you. I just want to thank my mum and family from Cairns and all my past coaches for supporting me.”
McPherson said 17-year-old Bailey was another example of the pathway that exists into Roar’s senior W-League setup. “Mia is an incredibly talented goalkeeper who has been in our FQ/QAS program for a number of years and benefited from the elite training environment it provides,” the Head Coach said.
“It’s exciting to see more and more players stepping out of the program and into the senior Brisbane Roar side. Mia is a very driven young person who can be a role model for other aspiring young goalkeepers in Queensland.”
Goalkeeper Coach Brody Sams added: “Mia’s opportunity has come about as a result of her attitude and application day in and day out. It will be great to see how she approaches her first season at the highest level of football in this country.”
Earlier this week, we reported on two further additions to Perth Glory‘s team. Click here to read the views of of Danish international Mie Leth Jans, American striker Cyera Hintzen, head coach Alex Epakis and CEO Tony Pignata: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/2021/09/20/two-overseas-signings-check-in-at-perth/
Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets Unveil New Kits:
Sydney FC have revealed their new home and away kits for the 2021/22 season, with bots kits provided by Under Armour.
Details include a raised 3D Sydney FC badge and new back of neck logo, incorporating the club’s iconic “We Are Sydney” slogan.
Under Armour Ambassador and Sky Blues’ defender Angelique Hristodoulou was excited to be part of the unveiling. “I really think everyone will love the new look and designs,” she said.
The home kit has the traditional sky blue shirt with dark blue playing shorts, with a Sky Blue stripe through the lower back part, as well as traditional all Sky Blue socks.
It’s a similar story with the away kit, where the shorts are all Sky Blue with a white stripe in the lower back half, plus Sky Blue socks.
A Sydney FC alternate third kit is in production and will be released closer to the start of the new season.
Newcastle Jets‘ new kit, provided by VIVA, is completely different to what we have become accustomed to seeing in recent seasons as the club have gone back to the past and celebrate their maritime heritage.
For the first time in ten years, Newcastle Jets will return to their roots for their home kit with Port of Newcastle featuring as the major partner on a new gold jersey for the A-League team.
While the Club has most recently played in blue and red primarily, they have also worn gold. From the 2021/22 season onwards, the Jets will return to gold as the primary strip colour.
Executive Chairman Shane Mattiske said; “While the Club is moving forward into a new era in many ways, we are determined to reconnect with our origins and uphold the history of football in the region.
“It was a clear decision for the Club to return to wearing gold and it is a notion we know many supporters and former players strongly support. Our return to gold marks the perfect time for the Club to unite with another local icon, Port of Newcastle, our city’s golden port.”
Bonded by Gold for the next three upcoming seasons, Port of Newcastle’s gold and navy logo will be proudly worn by players on the front of jersey position for the A-League and FFA Cup campaigns.
“The players love the new kit and the Jets are extremely excited to be partnering with the Port of Newcastle,” Mattiske said.
“The Port is a huge supporter of jobs among our fan base, the Hunter region’s economy and just like the Jets, are an iconic part of our community.
Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody said Port of Newcastle’s staff are thrilled to be bonded by gold with the local team as the Jets return to their iconic roots.
“The Port’s been here for 222 years and we have a strong workforce of Jets supporters among our own Port of Newcastle team,” Mr Carmody said.
“Many don’t know that the Port of Newcastle has a long history of loving and supporting football, with some of the first wharfies to work at the Port through the 1900s belonging to social football teams and kicking the ball around the Port after a hard day’s work.
De Vanna Quits Amidst Matildas Criticism:
Yesterday, legendary Australian international Lisa De Vanna announced her retirement in an interview with Michael Cain on ESPN. De Vanna spoke to Cain about her anger from missing out on a chance with the Matildas Olympic squad after discussions with head coach Tony Gustavsson. She also spoke out about how “hard done by” former national head coach Alen Stajcic was at being removed from his job ahead of the 2019 World Cup after the fall out of a player welfare survey. The full article can be read here: https://www.espn.com.au/football/story/4479912/heartbroken-lisa-de-vanna-walks-away-from-football