Canberra United star Sally Shipard writes a love letter to the Westfield W-League and what it's done for the women's game.
Dear Westfield W-League, My, haven-t you grown? You-re now five and you-ve really just blossomed.
It is admirable the way you have helped the game develop. You have created a path for us all to keep improving and discovering our abilities as footballers, as humans. You-ve allowed young girls to connect in ways like never before, there now lies a clear vision to reach the top. For any aspiring young girl to represent Australia, you are the integral stepping stone.
Looking back to your first season, you were so new to the world. There were sceptics amongst us, as to how you would mature through the earlier years.
Of course, without the support from all officials, volunteers, players, there would be no reason for you to exist. We must continue working together so the ground we-ve broken becomes our foundation to build. We must all continue to grow, strengthen and be that vessel for football to reach its full potential in this nation.
From an athlete-s perspective you-ve assisted in changing the face of women-s football in Australia, providing the opportunity for players to develop and prove themselves, in the eyes of the national team selectors.
You-ve provided the opportunity for our Aussie contingent to connect with the world. There is an international experience within every club, increasing international interest, further ensuring a strong player base for the national side for years to come.
You have evolved in to a serious, meaningful and senior domestic league that is now watched by an audience of a million people each season on the ABC.
Your most recent season saw six teams in the final rounds in contention for the remaining four places, highlighting that after five years of competition, there are no easy games.
You are now reaching great heights. We are in the top 10 ranked nations in the world, no. 3 in Asia, home to 55 per cent of the world-s population exist, not to mention Japan, the current world champions. Quite remarkable when you think about it like that, isn-t it?
Because of you existing we-ve identified players who would have never been discovered if it weren-t for the platform you provide. The international stars you-ve lured can only assist the games development. Australia is a unique country and football is on a very unique path.
Female participation now accounts for one in five of all participants under the FFA banner.
So my, haven-t we still got some growing to do. Maybe a full round of home and away is a good start...