Why a shorter off-season will dramatically improve the A-League Women’s competition

-

Promoting and advancing women’s football in Australia and New Zealand is one of the most important goals the A-League Women’s competition has set for itself.

And one of the best ways it can do that is by putting out the best possible product every game, and perhaps more importantly, each and every season.

Embed from Getty Images

But how can each ALW club be expected to put its best foot forward during the season with such a long lay-off?

Elite athletes and coaches constantly preach the importance of momentum and consistency, yet in this competition we give squads the opportunity to build neither.

Canberra United coach Vicki Linton’s comments towards the end of the season were emblematic of this sentiment, as her side heads into the off-season on a high after some strong performances capped off an otherwise frustrating season.

Embed from Getty Images

But rather than expressing hope and excitement for the what a solid finish could mean for next season, Linton was disappointed.

She was disappointed because the long off-season means any progress her side might have made will be washed away.

“I don’t think this can serve as a foundation to be honest,” she said.

“Even just looking at the past couple of seasons, we’ve had to start from scratch.”

Clearly, there is at least some impetus and desire to see change to the ALW schedule, in order to promote off-season development and encourage season-to-season progress within each side.

Embed from Getty Images

Under the current state of affairs, what incentive does a poorly-performing team have to push itself towards the back-end of the season? With no relegation, and as we’ve established minimal opportunity to growth into the following season, the most any team, and any individual player, has to play for is pride. We can do better.

The obvious solution is to simply extend the length of the season. The A-League Men’s season currently stands at 26 games plus finals, with the women competing in 14 plus finals – just over half.

Embed from Getty Images

Perhaps over the course of a few years getting the women’s competition up to an equal number of games is possible, but in the meantime a more realistic goal might be 18 games, with each side playing all other teams twice.

But an even better solution might be a mid-year tournament, a women’s version of the FFA Cup. Have teams compete in a knockout tournament during the June-July period to generate some interest before the AFL kicks in to gear ahead of their finals.

Embed from Getty Images

This way, not only will fans and the media get another opportunity to push the game into the spotlight, but players and coaches will have a reason to develop their squads towards the back-end of the normal season in preparation for this tournament.

More match-day reps for the players will mean more experience, and with more experience comes a higher-quality product which people will be more willing to get behind and support.

Ultimately, if the A-Leagues is serious about progressing women’s football and improving the standard of the game they show to their audience, then extending the season is something it has to consider.

The players and coaches need more opportunities to build momentum, consistency and a culture of success around their clubs, the current 14-game plus finals layout simply isn’t cutting the mustard at this stage.

Feature Image Credit: Tom McCarthy

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Mitchell Turner
Third Year Undergraduate Arts Student at Monash University (Journalism Major). Generic sports tragic living out my failed dreams of going pro vicariously through other people.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required