Two weeks after losing the W-League Grand Final to Melbourne Victory, Brisbane Roar will begin play in the Queensland Under-15 boys league. This isn't some sort of bizarre relegation system, though — it's the kind of creative scheduling Brisbane coach Belinda Wilson hopes will keep the team sharp in the overly long offseason.
From the Guardian:
“We wanted to put them in a competition where physically they are able to compete and also able to play football and develop as players,” says head coach, Belinda Wilson.
What the boys have in strength, especially as they develop over the season, the women have in smarts, she says. “That’s the major difference. They are probably a lot stronger than us in the physicality, so we have to adapt our game so we can be competitive in that environment. In terms of footballing sense, the girls are a little bit more game aware and have more ability from a tactical point of view, because of the level they’ve been playing.”
She’d like to be competing with the under-16s boys, but with so many of her players away on national duties for long stretches of this season, the decision was made to go down an age group. But, she says, “we’d never, ever, ever play against the under 18s, because physically we can not compete against an under-18 boy. Or man.”
With money tight in the women's game, the W-League's season only lasts about three months (eight teams playing 12 rounds followed by a four-team playoff). This is shorter than the four-month NWSL season in the U.S. (nine teams playing 24 rounds followed by a four-team playoff) and the enviable nine-month Frauen-Bundesliga in Germany (12 teams playing 22 rounds with promotional/relegation and winter break).
Wilson said that preseason friendlies against boys teams are nothing new, but this is the first time she's heard of a W-League side joining a competition against them to get the regular matches with points on the line needed to develop players. Maybe this will start a trend for W-League clubs, but the hope remains to get the funding necessary to extend the season.
Australia could bid for the 2019 Women's World Cup and as Germany proved in 2011, hosting the tournament can be profitable. The German federation invested €5 million of the €10.6 million pre-tax profits from the event back into girls' and women's football.
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