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Archive for July, 2017

Redbacks find their sting against East Freo

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: Competitions

Football West News

The Northern Redbacks have lived up to their namesake with a convincing 5-0 victory over East Fremantle FC on Sunday.

Redbacks’ Demi Vance set the tone for the match with a skilful goal in the 5th minute.

East Fremantle responded with some close attempts by McKayla Lyons and Kate Thayer in 19th and 26th minutes, but Redbacks’ keeper Kathleen Waycott was quick on the ball.

Renee Leota managed to extend the Redbacks’ lead by scrambling the ball through a crowded square in the 29th minute.

East Fremantle came out strong in the second, but shots from Evie Marchetti and Sarah Kenny in the 52nd and 55th minutes weren’t enough to close the gap.

Jessica Wheatman, Vance and Leota were able to capitalise on their opponents’ mistakes and add three goals to their tally.

Coming into round six the Redbacks were placed 5th on the ladder with one win and two loses, but the result has lifted them to 3rd place, behind their next formidable opponent NTC.

Redbacks coach Tim Hodgson said his team had missed a number of games this season but he is pleased to see them progress on the scoreboard.

“We haven’t really had enough games for us to get things gelling properly, but when we did start combining things, we are not too bad,” he said.

Hodgson said his team’s line-up included three international-level players, which was the key to their success.

“We’ve got experienced players, we play it simple if we can,” he said.

Leota played for New Zealand in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Vance played for Northern Island in the UEFA Championship in 2007 and Kim Carroll has played for the Matildas in the 2011 World Cup.

Having won 14 Premier League Championships, Hodgson said the team had let themselves down in a couple of games this year, but it was all forward from here.

East Fremantle assistant coach Gary Thayer commended his team for their gutsy performance against a more experienced side.

“We are a young team and it is a little bit erratic at times, some are still learning about the game,” he said.

“We have just come off NTC which was a big loss, which wasn’t deserved, but in this game we had our chances.

“When we put pressure on them, they didn’t play as well, but as soon as we slacked off they just walked all over us.”

Northern Redbacks 5 (Vance 5min, 8, Leota 14, Wheatman 2)

East Fremantle SC 0

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Wauhop Park

Kick-off: 3:00pm

Referee: John Westmerland

Northern Redbacks: 1. Kathleen WAYCOTT, 2. Jessica WHEATMAN, 3. Larissa WALSH, 5. Eleanor BLACKMORE, 6. Carla BENNETT, 7. Kim CARROLL, 8. Demi VANCE, 9. Megan MILLER, 11. Katie MOTH, 12. Shawn BILLAM, 13. Elisa D’OVIDIO, 14. Renee LEOTA, 15. Piper BOOBYER, 17. Lauren RILEY

Yellow cards: nil

Red cards: nil

East Fremantle SC: 1. Leniana MASIBAKA, 2. Brook MARICIE, 3. Issabelle BRIDGES, 4. Zoe YAO, 5. Karissa LEAR, 6. Lauren WALTMAN, 7. Lea VOLKMER, 8. McKayla LYONS, 9. Evie MARCHETTI, 10. Emma GAUTREY, 11. Sarah KENNY, 13. Kate THAYER, 14. Rachael OLIVE, 15. Zoe ANDRIJICH, 16. Sammi CARBON, 17. Raphaella WALTMAN

East Fremantle SC:

Yellow cards: nil

Red cards: nil

Sam Kerr Video Highlights

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: W League

Aldi Miniroos coaching skills

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: Coaching

NTC win big over East Fremantle

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: Competitions

Football West Report by Kane Sutton

NTC Women have produced their second emphatic win in two weeks, defeating East Fremantle SC 5-1 on Sunday afternoon.

NTC carried a 2-0 lead into half time and were able to capitalise on the few mistakes their opponents made during the last half an hour of play, to three goals to their tally.

NTC coach Jessine Bonzas praised her team’s ability to come out firing in the first half while setting up tough attacking structures that kept them on the front foot.

“Going into the half at two-nil is a dangerous score, they get one, and get themselves back into the game,” she said.

“Our girls are preparing for the national championship. We’re really pleased with how they’re going, and to come our and show that maturity today was a really good thing.”

NTC found themselves a goal ahead within minutes of kick-off, as a perfectly weighted through-ball allowed Liana Cook enough space to dribble ahead and casually slot the ball past the keeper in the fifth minute.

The home team were able to double their lead less than fifteen minutes later. A corner kick that spilled out of the box was attacked by Leticia McKenna, who lobbed the ball over the keeper into the back left corner.

After comfortably controlling the first half, NTC struggled to keep momentum in the second.

East Fremantle applied the attacking pressure early, and a parried keeper save allowed Sarah Kenny to roll the ball into goal.

Now only down by one, Fremantle continued to press forward and gave themselves a number of chances to level the score.

A shot across the face of goal by Zoe Yao was centimetres wide of the post, and a headed effort by Issabelle Bridges skimmed over the crossbar.

NTC were able to wrestle back control of the match and secure the win after a goal in the 73rd minute by substitute Georgia Cawley was followed by a second goal just two minutes later from Abbey Meakins, who was also brought into the game late.

Bonzas praised her team’s resilience in halting the attacking pressure and picking their moments to get forward after a lot of defending.

“It’s a massive credit to them for holding out, and to hit back,” she said.

“We made two subs, and I asked them to make an impact, and they scored two goals in five minutes.”

The home team continued to press forward late in the game as the rain began to fall, and Cook took advantage, easing the ball past the keeper in the 87th minute.

East Fremantle official Gary was proud of his team’s fighting spirit, but conceded it was a tough loss to take and that rallying for next week’s game against fifth placed Northern Redbacks next week was now a priority.

“We put pressure on them, we told the girls it was only two goals, and we managed to put pressure on [NTC],” he said.

“We had a few mistakes, and it cost us dearly. We had our chances on goal, and I think that was the difference, really.

“We’ve got a few disappointed girls here, who were a bit emotional – they really wanted to do well in this game. But next week’s another game.

“It’s not going to get any easier, so we’ll train hard this week, and go from there.”

The win keeps NTC in clear second place behind Queens Park, the only team they’ve lost to so far this season.

Meanwhile, East Fremantle drop from third to fourth on goal difference, and widen the gap on second place to six points.

FW NTC Women 5 (Cook 5min, 87, McKenna 18, Cawley 73, Meakins 75)

East Fremantle SC 1 (Kenny 49min)

Sunday, May 5, 2017

Celebration Park

Kick-off: 12:00pm

Referee: Alex Best

FW NTC Women – 1. Morgan AQUINO, 2. Alyssa VAN HEURCK, 3. Cheyenne WISE-JARVIS, 4. Sofie OSBORNE, 5. Rosie LEHANE, 6. Georgia IRELAND, 7. Liana COOK, 8. Abbey MEAKINS, 9. Biana WEBB, 10. Lexie MORENO, 11. Izzy FOLETTA, 12. Leticia MCKENNA, 13. Tessa DE LEO, 14. Georgia CAWLEY, 15. Ashling DEVITT, 17. Jenna ONIONS

Yellow cards: Nil

Red Cards: Nil

East Fremantle SC – 3. Issabelle BRIDGES, 4. Jaqueline MCLERNON, 5. Shannen PINK CRUSTANCHO, 6. Laura WALTMAN, 8. McKayla LYONS, 9. Evie MARCHETTI, 11. Taylor MAGUIRE, 14. Rachael OLIVER, 15. Zoe ANDRIJICH, 16. Kate THAYER, 17. Leniana MASIBAKA, 18. Lea VOLKMER, 19. Sarah KENNY, 20. Zoe YAO, 26. Kaylin GEELHOED

Yellow cards: Oliver 84min, Yao 85

Red cards: Nil

Expanding Horizons: A discussion about the introduction of a 10th W-League team

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: W League

May 24, 2017

Later this year, the Westfield W-League is set to reach an important milestone as it commences its 10th season.

In that time period the W-League has powered the growth and success of the Matildas, along with the progression and popularity of women’s football at grassroots.

Now, more than ever, there has been increased interest in the league with several clubs and interest groups stating their intent to join the competition.

If you hang around A-League circles, you would have to be under a rock to miss the at times contentious conversations regarding A-League expansion or promotion/relegation.

However, while the Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City have joined the foundation teams, W-League expansion has rarely been discussed; until now.


Officially or rumoured, there are a number of possible contenders to join the W-League either next season or in the future. That there are a number of contenders bodes well for the W-League but what are the merits of the different licence bids.

The Central Coast Mariners were the first to make their objective known to re-acquire a W-League licence in December 2016.

“The club has been quietly working hard behind the scenes for the last 18 months to understand what a Mariners W-League team will look like,” said Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp in the announcement.

“It is with great energy and confidence that today we make the significant step forward on this journey.”

Foundation members of the W-League before withdrawing in 2010, the Mariners have the inside running. The club’s previous participation in the W-League means they have some knowledge of what is required, although it must be noted that their previous squad was administered by Football NSW. Further. with their partnership with the North Shore Mariners, they have an established catchment area to pull in players from.

One of the critical questions in relation to the Mariners is whether a fourth team in NSW is one too many. While NSW might have 45% of women’s football participants, the Mariners catchment area is one that is currently reasonably well serviced with the Newcastle Jets, Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers. Whether their inclusion cannibalise from those three existing teams is a topic of discussion below on the merits of W-League expansion.

Mariners are not the only Australian club with W-League aspirations. Former NSL powerhouses South Melbourne have been slowly putting together the building blocks. Their most recent move has been the acquisition of Matildas co-captain Lisa De Vanna.

“South is a complete football club,” A-League bid director Bill Papastergiadis said. “Investing in the development of women’s program is central to the club’s future blueprint.”

South Melbourne would face a similar problem of a geographical catchment area. It is one that Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City have not really been able to solve. Despite building championship winning squads, City has mainly called on interstate and international players with the majority of Victorian based players finding a home at Victory. Again they would have the question of home growing players or pulling from City, Victory or interstate W-League teams.

South Melbourne have made no formal moves but across the ditch, Wellington Phoenix have made inroads into gaining the required approvals to be in a position to pull together a pitch.

“We’re keen to have one next season. Whether we can pull it round in quite that time we don’t know,” said general manager David Dome in April. “We’re working hard on it and it has to be a collaborative effort with New Zealand Football and there is still stuff to work through there.”

“If we can get it done for the next W-League season that would be fantastic, it might take a little bit longer, but everyone is pushing for it to get done this year.”
Lisa De Vanna in action for South Melbourne in NPLW against Calder United. (Photo: Ashley Perez)

Wellington Phoenix would not raise the player depth question that CCM and South Melbourne pose with the whole of the New Zealand women’s football community available to them.

The introduction of a Phoenix side in the competition would create some interesting logistical problems for the FFA and NZ Football to work through. Currently the longest trip Perth-Brisbane is 3,608.7km (2,242.3 miles) which is already one of the longest domestic flights in women’s football[1]. At 5,261.4km or (3,269.3 miles), the Perth-Wellington travel would eclipse that, bringing with it all the associated costs.

Closer to home the Southern Sydney expansion consortium were next to put up their hand but their offer to enter a team in the upcoming season has already been rejected by the FFA.

“Frankly, we find it hard to understand,” said Southern Expansion’s CEO Chris Gardiner.

“The W-League has a 9-team competition, the A-League a 10-team competition. The FFA says it wants to grow the Women’s game and Southern Expansion is in a position to fund the team, at levels that meets the best benchmarks set by Professional Footballers’ Australia and with a marquee player, but the FFA won’t even discuss the matter.”

The amount of interest in joining the W-League is a positive development also brings to the forefront a number of questions including if and when should the W-League expand?
Central Coast Mariners played two seasons win the W-League (Photo: Getty Images)


At the conclusion of the 2016/17 W-League season, Professional Footballers Australia released an ambitious blueprint for women’s football in Australia.

A key component of ‘From grassroots to greatness: Roadmap for women’s football’ was the expansion of the W-League to be better aligned with top women’s football leagues in Germany, France, the United States, Sweden and Japan.

For PFA Chief Executive John Didulica, W-League expansion is a positive advancement in the context of building a depth of players to feed through to the national team.

“Within our Grassroots to Greatness document, we are advocates for – at least for the next season – a 10 club competition,” he said.

“I think the advantages that come with that are more opportunities for players, the ability to have more games and obviously avoiding the bye when you have an odd numbered competition.”

“Ultimately the key aim is to create as many playing opportunities as we can and then the reciprocal obligation is to make sure those opportunities are of the highest quality.”

“That then feeds into where we want to get to, which is to be World Champions, Olympic champions and having that real critical mass of high quality players within Australia.”

Didulica’s statements provide a number of points to explore further.

When it comes to W-League expansion, one of the continual questions is in relation to player depth. Namely, does Australia have the player pool to sustain a 10th team? And, subsequently, are there players who are of W-League quality currently missing out on development opportunities due to a lack of squad positions?

“The idea of having a strong league with more teams in to give more competition is a good thing,” said current Melbourne Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins.

Hopkins has been involved in women’s football for over a decade. First with the Queensland Academy of Sport program and then with Brisbane Roar, coaching the club to two W-League championships. The former Welsh international has also been involved in player development including as a former Young Matildas coach.

“Number one [question to expansion] is you have to have the depth of talent there. I think that league is moving forward but I am just not sure if we are right at this moment to dilute it down.”

Currently there are 144 Australian players on W-League rosters with a 10th team resulting in a further 16 Australian players required for the league.

While the past decade has seen beneficial changes at the top tier of women’s football, further down the elite pathway there has been substantial erosion. With Australia’s top players heading overseas before returning home later in the year, the gap between the state leagues and the W-League has slowly increased.

Didluca acknowledges the issue of the gap. It bears out in the information gathered and feedback received from the PFA’s research for their blueprint.

“We certainly accept that as a starting point,” he said. “But if we are going to wait for when we think it’s ready, the horse will have bolted. We really have to be ambitious with how we are positioning the competition.”
North Shore Mariners in action (Photo: Toby Lord/NSM Facebook)

In that Didluca is right. One of the criticisms of Australian football has related to imagination and vision, more precisely, its scarcity.

When the W-League was founded back in 2008, it was off the back of hype from the Matildas first quarter final run at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. While women’s football found some traction, it certainly wasn’t as much on the radar as it is now. The ambition and foresight to build a national league has been critical for the visibility of the game and its players.

“I guess that could be an argument,” said Hopkins. “But again I guess we have got to look at the league and ask what are we looking to get out of the league?”

“I think there definitely has got to be an element of player development there but are we looking to put extra teams in just to develop players.”

Hopkins’ question is an existential one. It is a question for which the answer can directly affect which path is taken.

On inception, the W-League was a development league with the ultimate aim to cultivate players for the Matildas. Is that still the key objective?

Hopkins puts forward a proposition that the objective can remain the same but the method of fulfilling that objective can evolve.

In the early days it was experienced Matildas like Dianne Alagich, Joey Peters, Cheryl Salisbury, Kate McShea, Alicia Ferguson, Heather Garriock, Sarah Walsh etc who provided the leadership and mentoring for the next generation of players. Nowadays, it is arguable that the international contingent plays a greater role in that process by virtue of their quality assisting in lifting up the level of play.

“I always thought [the objective] is to provide our players a stage and a platform on the national scene. That’s number one,” said former Football West CEO and Perth Glory Women’s administrator Peter Hugg.

Hugg has been involved in football for over 20 years including as the former CEO of the Australian Women’s Soccer Association.

“Development and the acquisition of the skills and talent, that is number two. As aspirational role models, as promotional and marketing tools for the game, they would be number three.”

Hopkins concurred with Hugg’s assessment of the key objective of the league. He believes – and this writer agrees – that safeguarding the growing reputation of the W-League should be vital. Essentially that means ensuring that the standard of play continues to improve season to season. In this way, the development of the next generation and the continual development of the current Matildas can occur. The two objectives need not be mutually exclusive.

“The W-League has gained respect over the years and we just have got to be a little bit careful about how we want to be seen as a league,” Hopkins continued.

“We have just got to be careful that we don’t take steps backwards with the quality of the league. There is quite a fine balance.”

Conversely John Didulica points to Melbourne City’s entry into the W-League as an example of where expansion can benefit the team as a whole. As Director of Football at City in 2015, Didulica was a key figure in the attainment of a licence and assembling arguably the best squad in the history of the W-League.

“Bringing in a club like a Melbourne City who can apply resources to the competition has helped lift the entire league.”

“I think if we could bring in a 10th team and down the track and 11th and 12th team who do similar things will see the water level of the league to continually rise.”

“That is what we need to do, we need to actually drag the state and the regional levels up with what’s happening at the top rather than wait for that to actually tangibly improve before we take that next step.”

That premise is predicated on the fact that clubs increase resourcing to their W-League teams. That is in an ideal world.

While Canberra United were one of the few teams to come close to their $150,000 salary cap, Melbourne City were the first team to use the full cap allotment.

To put that in context, Perth Glory, under the leadership of Hugg spent $46,000 of their salary cap in Season 7 when they claimed the premiership and made the grand final.

“As much as Melbourne City are to be applauded for their investment, unless everyone comes along and keeps pace with that you will have this runaway team,” said Hugg. “To a certain extent other teams have upped the ante a little bit.”

“Anything that contributes to the players getting more money, staying in the game, to be able to dedicate themselves greater to the game, train better and become more professional, then it is to be applauded.”

The question of resourcing leads to the next W-League expansion discussion point; where are the limited resources best spent?

A former W-League club administrator was blunt on this point.

“Unless FFA commits to a full home and away and there is increased funding for the teams, absolutely not should there be a 10th team next season.”

“It is not a level playing field while there is not a full home and away season.”

The question of a full home and away season has become a contentious one in recent years and the voices to increase the number of games have grown stronger and louder from all spectrums of the women’s football community.

Earlier this month, moments after being crowned the W-League Player of the Year, Sam Kerr was asked about what is required for the W-League to go to the next level.

“A full season of home and away games is what we need,” said Kerr.

“When you look at the top leagues around the world, in the US league where I play, playing week in and week out is so important. The more you play, the more you learn and we need that in the W-League.”

Kerr is not alone in those sentiments. Michelle Heyman, Lisa De Vanna, Ellie Brush, Katrina Gorry are just a number of players to go on the record about a need for a full home and away season. In our survey of 32 players last season, 17 players stated the need for a longer season.

“I think we need to go to full home and away rounds of the competition schedule before we start considering W-League expansion with more teams,” said Hugg.

Hugg is also not alone. Former Canberra United CEO Heather Reid and the coaches of the W-League, on and off the record, have continually voiced this opinion for the past 5 years.

“For me, and the conversations that I am having with other coaches, our main priority would be to make it a full home and away league at the moment to make it more balance,” said Hopkins.

“It’s to keep growing the game and once we have done that I think we can move onto expanding the league.”

The FFA have not been deaf to these calls and an FFA spokesperson provided an indication that it is being evaluated at head office.

“For the Westfield W-League the intention is to expand the number of teams and the length of the season when it is possible to do so in a sustainable way,” they told The Women’s Game.

Sustainability is vital. One of the key lessons learned from the collapse of leagues overseas is going too hard too early can result in significant setbacks to the development of the game in a particular nation. On the other hand, the old adage of “if you are standing still, you are moving backwards” comes to mind.

“FFA is working with the existing clubs on a new operating and ownership model for the Hyundai A-League/Westfield W-League and is planning for expansion as a part of this.”

Again in an ideal world additional clubs or additional rounds shouldn’t be an either/or proposition. However, with the FFA footing the travel bills, tv production costs and providing a stipend to the clubs, the reality is the financial resources are finite.

When you consider that travel costs are approximately $60,000 per round the cost of including a 10th team would be go close to that cost of including an additional four rounds of competition.

“If it’s either/or you definitely have to go home and away,” said the W-League club administrator. “You can’t bring in a 10th team and still have only 12 rounds.”

With whispers of the FFA potentially increasing their stipend to the clubs from $50,000 to $150,000, this adds to the either/or proposition. Unless the federation goes all out and funds a 10th team and goes to a full home and away schedule of 18 games. In this fantasy scenario, the cost would be around $1.5 million.

Interestingly that cost is similar amount that the PFA cited as required to take women’s football to the next stage of success.

“The other key area of focus for the Westfield W-League is an improvement of pay and conditions for players. We will be making an announcement about this in the near future,” the FFA spokesperson concluded.
Melbourne City have proved a successful expansion team (Photo: Ann Odong)


The arguments for and against expansion are numerous and compelling but whichever aisle you stand in, the position aspect is that these discussions are occurring. That, rather than remaining stagnant, key stakeholders are deliberating a way forward for the women’s game.

“The continuing development of female football, at every level, is a high priority for FFA.”

At a time when women’s football is facing stiff competition from other football codes, as well as a revitalised netball and cricket, serious debate on the direction of the W-League is required if the W-League is to be here for another decade and to serve another generation of players.

For now, we wait.

[1] Seattle Reign and Orlando Pride have the longest domestic travel in women’s football at 4123.8km or 2562.4km

Expanding Horizons: A discussion about the introduction of a 10th W-League team

Queens Park SC looking for a Reserves Coach

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: Club Noticeboard

Coaching opportunity – Queens Park Premier Reserves Women’s Coach!

We are looking for a committed coach who is genuinely interested in Women’s football and can work as a team with first team players and Coaches.

Experience is not necessary for the right person as any training, support and coaching courses will be provided for by the club.!

If you are interested in this position please contact Lynda Woodfin 0433189 056 or email

The greatness of NWSL internationals continues to be underappreciated

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: NWSL

ISI Photos-Trask Smith
ISI Photos-Trask Smith

If Sam Kerr and Nahomi Kawasumi were American, we would have heard a lot more about their huge weeks.

Richard Farley
17 May 2017

They were performances that made fans thankful to have their women’s league. One was from Tobin Heath, a four-assist night that highlighted the craft and ferocity of a domineering star. The other was from Christen Press, whose Sinclair-esque goal, assist, and forced-penalty day poured kerosene on the already heated Press-Morgan debate.

When U.S. Soccer decided to fund the NWSL, undoubtedly, these were the performances it had hoped to foster. And those fans who persevered through the Women’s United Soccer Association and Women’s Professional Soccer were left buzzing at their payoff, fulfilled and agape at what their new, now entrenched league can offer.

And, of course … none of that actually happened.

At least, it didn’t happen via Heath, Press, or any of the other U.S. women’s national team stars who have become the faces of the NWSL. Instead, those performances came from two internationals, Japan’s Nahomi Kawasumi and Australia’s Sam Kerr, perhaps explaining why few beyond the NWSL’s hardcore fans took notice of their record-setting, intimidating performances.

Kawasumi’s was the best performance the NWSL has ever seen from a wide player, her pristine and purposeful touches making every ball played down Seattle’s right into a scoring chance. As for Kerr, an attacker with World Player of the Year potential, it truly was a day worthy of Christine Sinclair, with the 23-year-old’s drive setting up Leah Galton’s goal displaying the same gravity we would see from one of the Canadian icon’s runs.

The potential buzz from those performances is, of course, debatable, but even in the shadows of the NWSL, the exploits of Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe can see the light of day. The rest of the U.S. women’s national team? Fans who care most about their favorite U.S. players’ club form still, likely, outnumber the league’s diehards, a state that’s existed since the league was imagined some five years ago. Since late 2012, the reality of the league remains unchanged: The mundane, week-to-week of its 10 teams’ results sits dim next to the national team stars.

Another reality, though, is embodied by Kawasumi, Kerr, and the myriad other international stars that call the league home. The NWSL may be our (Americans’) domestic league, but it’s not strictly a domestic league. Where would the circuit be without Sinclair, as big a star as the competition has ever had? Without Scotland’s Kim Little, the best player to play in league history, or Wales’ Jessica Fishlock, her partner in crime in Seattle? Where would the NWSL be without players like Veronica Boquete (Spain), Amandine Henry (France) and Marta (Brazil) dropping in, or without the best of a deep Australian player pool spending much of its time on U.S. soil?

Fifty-one international players claim roster spots across the league’s 20-woman squads, but that one-in-four ratio understates their importance. Almost no foreign players come to fill out the league’s depth charts. Their contributions are crucial. Forty-five of those imports start or regularly play as substitutes, while another four have been left out only because of injury. The NWSL may be a U.S.-driven league, but international players play an indispensible part.

Thanks to Kawasumi and Kerr, that part was on full display last weekend, but they weren’t the only internationals to stand out. Fishlock was her typical, invaluable part of Seattle’s midfield, as was Scottish international Rachel Corsie in Seattle’s defense. Brazilians Camila and Marta played vital roles as Orlando upset previously undefeated North Carolina. Canadian Adriana Leon continues to be dangerous for the league’s surprise team, Boston, while New Zealand’s Rosie White has transitioned with ease and pugnacity into the Breakers’ midfield.

Had their performances come instead from Morgan Brian, Julie Johnston, or Lindsey Horan, more would have taken notice. That’s not breaking news; that’s natural. People have biases, and most NWSL fans are going to be biased toward supporting the U.S. women’s national team. What that is, though, is slightly unfair to those players, whose achievements deserve the same respect an American’s.

[Counting down the five best intenational players in NWSL history]

That bias, though, isn’t the only thing muting international players’ acclaim. As a young league, the NWSL has only so many ways to amplify its own message. The league has finally gotten to a place where, when reason arises, it can crack a SportsCenter Top 10 highlight reel. English striker Rachel Daly’s opening weekend goal for Houston was testament to that. The more mundane greatness of a Kawasumi, or even a Sinclair? Scott Van Pelt won’t have that copy in his teleprompter.

The NWSL is a long way from being able to manufacture its own stars, or drive narratives that would take Sam Kerr to the masses. For as spectacular as Little was in Seattle, the former MVP didn’t capture imaginations beyond the league’s devoted. As much as that may be a U.S.-versus-international thing, it may also be a fact of a five-year-old business. When it comes to carving out a place in sports culture, the NWSL can’t be expected to do much.

But the lack of attention is also a fact of women’s sports coverage. Though leagues like the NWSL and WNBA have some bandwidth in the broad conversation, there’s rarely enough room for two stories at once. Consider this year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament, and the lack of attention the University of South Carolina got for winning the title. The story that carried the day, there? The fact Connecticut fell short. Consider also last fall’s WNBA playoffs. After a brilliant clinching game, LA Sparks icon Candace Parker went from sports show to sports show celebrating her team’s title. It was rare that those shows also also featured the regular-season MVP, Nneka Ogwumike, too.

There are too many realities here to decide which is most dominant, and it is worth considering how spectacular, audacious and transcendent a foreign star would have to be to capture a broader imagination. An NWSL record four assists weren’t good enough for Kawasumi, nor was Sam Kerr’s commanding performance against Houston.

Is there something a non-U.S. player could do to get the acclaim that the likes of Tobin Heath would get if she set a league record? And if not, what are we watching these games for? The amazing talents, competition, and conflicts? Or are we just here to see the American players do well?

Even in this column, we talked about U.S. players first. We crafted a hypothetical to make the message hit home. For hardcore NWSL fans, that trick was unnecessary, perhaps even insulting, but for those who keep the league in a very specific, very confined corner of their fandom, that trick may have convinced them to read this far.


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Players of the tournament – Top ten 2017

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: Futsal

May 23, 2017

Robbie Forsyth

The IFA Media Team were treated to 18 excellent futsal matches, with plenty of talented individuals on show. In this post tournament article, we pick out our ten top performers over the course of the tournament (in no particular order).

Daniella Chamoun – Sweden
Arguably the most influential player of the tournament. She anchored the team from the back, won the ball and drove the side forward. She knew where the net was too, scoring for fun in the opener and further big goals as the event progressed. Unfortunately, she let herself down in the France match, missing out on the Australia semi-final. Her absence was extremely apparent, as her team couldn’t reach the same level as with her in the side. Despite that, for four excellent games, she deserves her place in the top ten.

Gabriella Batmani – USA
The goalkeeper with the most solid performances throughout the tournament. Gabriella will be remembered by the fans for pulling off some cracking saves against France and Sweden and for the spectacular save she made with ten seconds to go against Australia in the final. She is without a doubt the goalkeeper of the tournament and a key member of the USA squad.

Irantzu Iparraguirre – Basque
Basque came into the tournament as underdogs, given their average age. However, their team spirit was evident from the start and the spectators took them to their hearts. Nobody more so than goalkeeper Iparraguirre. She performed heroics to keep out shot after shot, throwing herself at the feet of strikers on numerous occasions. A bright prospect for the future, alongside many of her team-mates.

Jessika Cowart – USA

Cowart was outstanding for the champions from start to finish. Her movement off the ball created space, her linkup play was a joy to watch and she scored vital goals in the big matches. A tireless worker, who epitomised her team’s never say die attitude.

Margot Robinne – France

Despite their bad luck throughout the group stages, France performed consistently well – especially given their lack of squad depth. Robinne was the pick of the bunch with a tenacious style of play, pressing opponents, winning the ball back and constantly threatening in attack. Deserves her place in the top ten and several of her team-mates can consider themselves unlucky not to be joining her.

Nazanin Vaseghpanah – Sweden

The Swedish number ten was one of the outstanding players of the tournament and certainly the local fans’ favourite. From scoring spectacular goals to being one of the most gifted technical players on show, Vaseghpanah is a strong all round player which is capable of playing any role and position in the team at a high standard and a very strong leader and character. Her first time chip from outside the box against Spain was a moment of magic.

Raleigh Loughman – USA

MVP in the final and MVP in the group match against Sweden after scoring a crucial last minute equaliser. Loughman oozed quality on the ball and her turn of pace caused countless problems for the opposition. A good position sense and vital contributor to her team’s success.

Rhianna Pollicina – Australia

Her nickname may have been ‘Mini’ but there was nothing small about Pollicina’s contribution to the tournament. She scored a stunning goal to kickstart her team’s comeback in the opening match and an equally impressive strike when the chips were down in the final. She was a nuisance to opposition defences throughout and can reflect on an excellent tournament from start to finish.

Shannon Day – Australia

One of the best all round players of the tournament. She was equally comfortable making a last ditch tackle as she was running at defenders and causing problems in the opposition half. She popped up with a number of vital goals and was a key player in Australia’s run to the final.

Svetlana Nikolskaia – Russia

A key player for Russia, which was evident by the fact she barely ever left the court. She was a vital part of her team’s solid defence and equally, if not more so, important going forwards. She scored a fantastic goal on the opening day and continued to bang in the goals as the tournament went on.


IFA Grand Final May 2017 (USA v Australia)

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: Futsal


USA crowned World Champions after thrilling win over Aussies

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: Competitions, World Football

May 21, 2017

Kieran Green

It all came down to this. The Final of the 2017 IFA Women’s Futsal World Cup in Lloret De Mar was contested by the USA and Australia. In their last meeting in the Pacific Cup, USA overcame their Aussie counterparts, who were on a revenge mission. Both sides overall were the outstanding teams at this World Cup and deservedly reached the final. It really was set up to be an incredible match.

The game began at a ferocious pace, both sides playing Futsal exactly how Futsal should be played. The USA had the better of the chances in the opening stages. Jessika Cowart coming close with a strike that flew past the post.

Shortly after Veronica Cashman was baring down on goal, Melissa Khoury raced from her goal grabbed the loose before just before Cashman could get any sort of effort on goal.

Australia grew into the game as the half went on. Pollicina battled well to keep the ball in midfield before feeding the ball wide to Chelsie Winchcombe. She opened her body and fooled Gabriella Batmani in the USA goal as she went for the near post, and she hit the outside of the upright and out for a goal kick. The closest the Aussies have come in the match.

You couldn’t separate these sides as half time approached. Pollicina struck one from distance for the Aussies that flew just wide of Batmani’s post. Maricela Padilla also tried her luck from distance but Khoury had it covered.

With less than three minutes remaining before half time, the USA almost broke the deadlock, twice. Raylene Larot fired a terrific strike towards the top corner, but Khoury tremendously tipped it over the ball. Padilla then tried her luck, but Khoury produced another stunning save to keep the scores level.

Half Time: Australia 0-0 USA

The first chance of the second half fell to the USA. Padilla chipped the ball into Katelyn Nebesnick, who laid the ball off to Raleigh Loughman but her shot was deflected wide. A good move by the USA at the beginning of the second half.USA were looking the more likely team to score. Loughman again played in Erika Lum with a fantastically weighted pass, Lum took one touch and tried to stab the ball between the legs of Khoury, but again the big keeper was equal to it and blocked the shot with her body.

Khoury was again called into action when Lum launched the ball forward to the unmarked Cashman. She spun and fired a shot towards goal but Khoury blocked it again. She was having an excellent game.

The stalemate was soon no longer as the USA took the lead. Australia were pushing forward and left a huge gap at the back. Padilla won the ball back, nutmegged Shannon Day, drove forward towards goal and stabbed the ball with her toe through the legs of Khoury who couldn’t get down quick. The large USA support were sent into raptures, as were the players. Maricela Padilla gave the USA the lead.

Australia almost immediately equalised less than a minute later. Shannon Day found space and struck towards goal but Batmani stood up to the task and palmed the ball away, top save!

Moments later Batmani was called into action again when Chelsie Winchcombe drove through on goal, squared the ball to Day, she cut in on her left foot and shot low but Batmani got down to her right very quickly to beat the ball away.

The Aussies hit the post for the second time in the game midway through the second half. Jasmin Kent played it into the box, it bobbled around with Hargreaves trying to get something on it. Pollicina ghosted in at the back post and got a strike on at goal, it beat Batmani but not the post as it crashed off the upright and away to safety.

The USA goal lead a charmed life a few times in the game, but it did no longer as the Aussies levelled the scores. Winchcombe received the ball on the left, switched the ball to Pollicina on the right, and Batmani was left with no chance as Pollicina, famous for her long range strikes in this world cup, hit a venomous strike that nestled sweetly in the top corner. With only five minutes remaining, who would prevail victorious?

The score wasn’t level for long as the USA got themselves back in front. Jessica Cowart from the kick in played the ball back to Loughman. She then squared it to Jessica Sanchez, who in turn played in Raylene Larot in space, and the little number one for the USA struck low and the ball crept in under the arms of Britt Hargreaves in the Aussies goal. Every member of the USA team and coaching staff joined in the jubilant celebrations.

The literally seconds remaining, Australia came within an inch of equalising. Pollicina cut inside from the left and curled her effort towards the top corner, but Batmani through herself through the air and tipped the ball over the bar, and that was that, the USA had won the 2017 IFA Women’s Futsal World Cup in Lloret De Mar.

Full Time: Australia 1-2 USA

Australia: 1- Britt Hargreaves (GK), 2- Lindsey Jobling, 3- Lori Depczynski, 4- Jasmin Kent (Captain), 5- Chelsie Winchcombe, 6- Sophie Jones, 7- Shannon Day, 8- Andrea Preiato, 9- Caitlin Jarvie, 10- Rhianna Pollicina, 11- Melissa Khoury (GK), 16- Jessica Lindquist.

MVP: Rihanna Pollicina – Scored a wonderful goal, and influential in the game as a whole. Unlucky to be on the losing side, but being the youngest player in the Aussie squad she has a very bright future ahead.

USA: 1- Raylene Larot, 2- Veronica Cashman, 3- Gabriella Batmani – GK, 5- Julie Meurer, 6- Emily Kuo, 7- Katelyn Nebesnick, 8- Maricela Padilla, 9- Erika Lum, 10- Jessica Cowart, 11- Alejandra Palominos Maldonado – GK, 12- Raleigh Loughman, 13- Ellie Pope, 17- Jessica Sanchez, 18- Jillian Jordan.

MVP: Raleigh Loughman – As she has been for the whole tournament, she was tremendous both going forward and defending. A real team player and a joy to watch playing Futsal.