Jets coach calls for extended A-League Women’s season

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After rebranding the A-Leagues to include both the men and women’s competition this season, the league took a step in the right direction to bring about equality in the game. One area that’s still lacking, however, is the length of the respective seasons.

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Whilst the A-League Men (ALM) season runs for a minimum of 21 regular rounds before finals, the A-League Women (ALW) season runs for just 12. That’s nine extra games that ALM teams have to turn their season around if need be.

For clubs like Brisbane Roar and Canberra United, who started the season poorly but are now showing promise on the pitch, the short season doesn’t afford them the time to continue upwards.

For other clubs like Newcastle Jets, who started the season on a high note but have since hit a low, there’s no time to turn it around and gain some momentum again.

Following her team’s 5-1 defeat against Brisbane Roar on Friday night, Newcastle coach Ash Wilson had plenty to say on the topic of league expansion.

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“I’m 100 per cent for expanding the league,” she said.

“We started the season really well and then had some results that we probably should have got more out of and now the inability to consolidate those games has come around.”

After a season hampered by COVID, the inability for teams to turn their season around, if need be, has been even harder.

“We’ve been knocked around a little bit in this backend where we’ve seen a build-up of matches as a result of Covid and the league not being extended,” said Wilson.

“Had there been more games we could have got ourselves into a position where we could get through this time and then still had weeks after to build on our performance.”

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There is a strong argument for the implementation of a full home-and-away ALW competition which you can read about here.

Whilst we won’t see this in place for the current season, an extension of this COVID-rattled season would have been more than enough. With teams already fighting injuries on top of  illness, an extension to the season would have given teams time to get back on their feet.

“In the last two to three weeks we really haven’t been able to do a whole lot of tactical prep because it’s been about managing recovery and getting ready for the next tone,” said Wilson.

“If the league is longer than obviously a period like this doesn’t have as much of an impact and you get the chance to continue to work on things that you want to build as a squad and your brand of football and get people back and playing fit.”

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With an injury-depleted squad, the back end of this season has been less than ideal for Wilson and her Jets. Friday night’s game saw Newcastle with just two subs on the bench, scholarship teenagers Josie Morley and Lara Gooch.

With next to no subs available, Newcastle had limited resources in their fight against a fit and fiery Roar side.

“Some of the players we had out tonight were only short-term injuries, maybe two to three weeks, but when you’ve got four games in 10 days there’s no way they can be back for that,” said Wilson.

“We’ve had more players this season than we’ve ever had with scholarship players, and it still got to this point where we had so many out which isn’t something we could have predicted.”

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As the regular ALW season comes to a close, it’s time for the A-Leagues to strongly consider expansion and extension of the women’s game.

Feature Image Credit: Sproule Sports Focus 

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Grace Clegg
Covering the Newcastle Jets for the 2021/22 season. Studying a Bachelor of Communication (News Media and PR) at the University of Newcastle. Coffee addict.

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