Sam Kerr, who is now playing for Chelsea, is certain the W-League will hold its own. (AAP: Rachel Bach)
The recent exodus of Matilda players for the UK has stirred up concerns for the future of the Australian women’s league but superstar striker Sam Kerr says “that’s just football”.
- Several Matildas stars have signed with teams in the UK
- Superstar striker Kerr says the mass exodus is not a cause for concern
- However, some people want to see the sport’s governing body do more
Matildas’ captain Kerr joined Chelsea at the end of last year after describing the Women’s Super League (WSL) as “the best league in Europe”.
She’s not alone — Matildas Caitlin Foord (Arsenal), Chloe Logarzo (Bristol City) and Hayley Raso (Everton) have all departed in recent weeks, following young gun Jacynta Galabadaarachchi (West Ham United), who made the move in July.
Melbourne City and Matildas defender Stephanie Catley says there was an unequivocal “change in the tide” and has also alluded to a future move to the WSL.
Golden girl Kerr said she wasn’t worried about the European migration and is confident the W-League would hold its own.
“That’s football you know, players come and go,” she said.
“It’s a pathway for these girls to step up, start playing bigger minutes.”
Joey Peters wants the Matildas to attract and nurture the next generation of star players. (Supplied: Central Coast Sports College)
But Matildas veteran Joanne “Joey” Peters wants to protect the W-League and is calling for change.
“We’ve got to go big or go home,” she said.
“Go big means we’ve got to start competing with England and try have the best world competition here.”
Peters, who notched up 110 caps for the Matildas and played with Newcastle Jets in the W-League, said the local competition had a fight on its hands to foster the next Kerr.
“We talk about a golden era of Australian women’s football, but there’s also the next generation like Mary Fowler and Jacynta Galabadaarachchi,” she said.
“We need to be able to nurture young players and provide a place for the next Sam Kerr to come through.”
It’s about celebrating players: FFA
Football Federation Australia (FFA) head of W-League Greg O’Rourke acknowledges the new dilemma but assures measures are in place.
“It means we have a chance to refresh with other players but let’s be clear we have 36 internationals from 12 different countries currently playing in the W-League,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“We should be celebrating their [the Matildas’] journey and their career going to the bigger stage.”
The FFA is still working on formalising player transfers with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the US, which for decades has been regarded as the best women’s football competition in the world.
Many of Australia’s W-League stars play in the NWSL and then return home for the domestic competition.
A formal agreement between the NSWL and W-League would address the growing impact of European competitions but there is no timeline for its completion.
“It will provide athletes with a different option”, Mr O’Rourke said.
“They can play internationally with some of the biggest leagues in Europe or they can play in this half-America, half-Australia option.”
But Peters says a longer W-league season is needed to cope with the English threat.
“The competition’s too short,” she said.
“I played in the first season, which was over 10 years ago and it’s still a similar format.
Players have confirmed through the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) they want more W-league games.