Brisbane Roar and Canberra United may have suffered heart-breaking exits from the Westfield W-League championship race on the weekend but their future is looking extremely bright.
The pair were united by the brave manner of the respective defeats against Melbourne City and Sydney FC respectively.
They are united too by the optimistic outlook that both clubs can boast looking ahead to season nine of the Westfield W-League and beyond.
Remarkably Canberra still have eight players from their foundation year way back in 2008. That simple fact says much about the club’s healthy and vibrant culture, one which has produced consistent results year-in, year-out.
The now dethroned champions enjoyed yet another strong season losing just twice over the course of the regular season.
“Looking at the gap on the ladder between second and third explains what a good season we had,” said Canberra coach Rae Dower. “In seasons gone by this amount of points wins championships.
“It is still a young team in many respects,” added Dower, with her side featuring numerous youngsters this season including several local products.
Canberra captain Nicole Begg says her side can and will learn from their tough 1-0 defeat in the nation’s capital on Sunday.
“I think it is important that we learn from this (loss),” she said after the match. “Something we need to change in future seasons is putting teams to bed that we believe we are better than.
“In the early seasons we were the underdogs and it was easy to come out and fight, but when we have been touted as favourites we have struggled a bit, and I think that is a cultural thing we need to address.”
There is optimism too in Brisbane, albeit for slightly different reasons. The Roar had arguably been the powerhouse of the competition until missing last year’s finals.
Several of the club’s golden generation exited during the off-season and in their stead came a host of inexperienced youngsters.
A five-match winless streak was replaced by a late run of form that suggests the club can mix it with the very best.
“Going into the game everyone had written us off, but we had belief in ourselves,” said Brisbane Roar skipper Clare Polkinghorne after the gut-wrenching penalty shoot-out defeat to Melbourne City.
“We were playing for each other and the badge on our jersey. I couldn’t be any more proud of our girls.
“We have a rich really history at this club at producing players. But that has meant that not so many local young players have got their chance.
“The players leaving left a spot open for the young players to have an opportunity, and every single one of those players that have come in have proven their worth.”