Having played in the first ever Westfield W-League match almost nine years ago, few are better placed to judge the progression of the women’s game in Australia than Heather Garriock.
The 130-cap Westfield Matildas legend was a part of Sydney FC’s squad for the competition’s inaugural season in 2008 and scored in the opening match of the campaign, a 4-0 win over Perth Glory.
Garriock enjoyed a successful career over several seasons at Sydney FC during the W-League era, claiming the 2009 title under now Matildas boss Alen Stajcic.
She also spent a season at Western Sydney Wanderers in 2013/14 before retiring at the end of the campaign.
And while reflecting on the ‘fantastic’ early days of the competition, Garriock admits the women’s game has gone to a whole new level in recent years.
And as the new coach of Canberra United, she hopes to make an impact from the dugout.
“Now it’s evolved into something massive. Obviously the Matildas have captured the imagination of the public, fans, sponsors and different things like that – it’s fantastic,” Garriock told Matildas.footballaustralia.com.au
“The W-League is on the rise definitely.
“It makes me really emotional just to see how much it’s evolved over the last 10 or 15 years.
“To see a sell-out at Pepper Stadium [for the Matildas], it was just phenomenal. It really brought a tear to my eye.”
FFA unveiled a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for Female Footballers in September which announced a significant pay increase for players and improved employment conditions.
Garriock believes the improved conditions along with the quality of players in the competition will see the league continue to go from strength to strength.
“It’s fabulous to see all the Matildas come back for the W-League, not to mention the international players that come as well,”Garriock said.
“The W-League has grown immensely, especially around the world in terms of minimum wage and things like that. It’s now in comparison with the American league, it’s great to see.”
Since retiring from the game, Garriock moved into the coaching ranks and has been appointed as Canberra United’s new head coach ahead of the 2017/18 season.
“Obviously being a rookie coach and coaching for the first time, I’m super excited and enthusiastic,” she said.
“I can’t wait to have my own team and start to make an imprint on women’s football in Australia.”