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I love football, but I have one footballing shame.

I don't dedicate anywhere near enough of my football viewing schedule to the W-League.

When you consider Australia has some of the finest female footballers plying their trade in our own backyard and a star-studded national team with realistic dreams of being crowned world champions it's almost a crime.

The Matildas have been one of Australia's highest performing national teams in recent memory and have become a source of pride for Australian football fans, but I, like many others, have failed to properly turn my attention to the W-League.

In my capacity as a journalist, I have covered the local women's game. I have spoken to women and men who are outspokenly passionate about growing female participation in our great game and I have seen first-hand the positive impact football has on the lives of so many young women.

Just as it does for men, football has an unsurpassed capacity to bring women from all walks of life together as players, as fans, as coaches and as administrators to produce amazing people, teams and all-round contributors to society.

In many ways, the women's game in Australia has surpassed its male counterpart despite a criminal lack of investment.

The W-League is proven produce of A-level international talent. So many of the Matildas who, under Alen Stajcic, are plotting a potential path to World Cup glory, have been developed through the W-League and gone on to have amazing careers.

None more so than Perth Glory's Samantha Kerr, a player who has been routinely recognized as one of the best players in the female game.

Her failure to make the top three of the FIFA's The Best awards was met with outrage by those who have followed her amazing career.

Kerr rejected offers from European heavyweights Barcelona and Chelsea to return to Perth Glory as the W-League's first marquee player.

It would be hard to imagine Australia's best male player rejecting Europe to play in the A-League.

Kerr won't be leading the charge alone. Experienced Aussie trio Shannon May, Kim Carroll and Shannon May all re-signed with the Glory for the new season and will be hoping to help the club improve on last season's 

Many might accuse the City Football Group of failing to help Melbourne City fulfil its true potential, but its investment in the club's W-League team has been unprecedented in Australia and has forced its fellow clubs to similarly raise the bar.

Since its arrival in the W-League in 2015, City has won all three Championships, but this season will have to make do without the mercurial Jess Fishlock.

Fishlock was City's top scorer over the last two campaigns and her 16 goals over the last two seasons played a massive part in the club's success in recent seasons.

It's not all bad news for the defending champs, though. Celebrated Matilda Kyah Simon has joined the club for the new campaign, while the club has also brought in fellow Matilda Lydia Williams, Danish star Theresa Nielsen and Americans Lauren Barnes and Jasmyne Spencer.

Former Brisbane Roar A-League head coach Rado Vidosic takes charge of the defending champions this season.

Speaking of Brisbane Roar, the Queenslanders will be out to defend their W-League premiership and improve on a disappointing finals campaign.

The Roar won all but three of its 12 league games last season, drawing one and losing the other two, before losing in the first round of the finals against fourth-placed City.

Celeste Boureille and Hayley Raso return to Brisbane for a third-straight campaign.

Elsewhere, Canberra United will look to break back into the final positions. Last season's Player of the Year Ellie Carpenter will be crucial to United's chances of closing the gap on the top four this season.

At just 18, Carpenter has already made an incredible 21 appearances for the Matildas and continues to develop into one of Australia's finest football talents. Scotland captain Rachel Corsie and Irish international Denise O'Sullivan have also joined Canberra's cause.

Melbourne Victory has lived in City's shadow over the last few seasons but will hope last year's improvement from wooden-spooners to seventh will continue into the new campaign.

Adelaide United will hope the addition of Houston Dash forward Veronika Latsko and defender Amber Brooks can help the Reds go from bottom spot to finals contention, while Newcastle Jets look like one of the teams to watch, having bolstered last season's third-placed squad with former US youth international Katie Stengel returning and looking to add to the 10 goals she scored in 13 appearances last season.

In Sydney, the Western Sydney Wanderers will be looking to close the gap on their cross-town rivals.

Servet Uzunlar was named Wanderers captain leading into the new season and the 2010 Asia Cup winner whose impressive resume also boasts two W-League Premierships, as well as one Championship, will be hoping to lead the Wanderers to new heights.

Sydney FC, who finished runners-up in both the league and the Championship last season, will be hard to catch though, having bolstered their already impressive squad with the American trio of Danielle Colaprico, Aubrey Bledsoe and US international Sofia Huerta.

I am late to the party, but on the eve of a new W-League season, perhaps it is a case of better late than never.

Thankfully, the league will be easier to follow than ever with the FFA's new mobile broadcast deal with Telstra, making all W-League games available live for the first time since the league's inception.

Round 1 games

  • Thursday 25 October:  Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC, Marconi Stadium, 7.30pm AEDT
  • Sunday 28 October:  Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory, Suncorp Stadium, 2.30pm local, 3.30pm AEDT
  • Sunday 28 October:  Canberra United v Melbourne City, McKellar Park, 4pm AEDT
  • Sunday 28 October:  Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United, AAMI Park, 4.15pm AEDT
  • BYE: Newcastle Jets

Categories: Opinion | Women

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