National team coach signs on with Sydney FC

Westfield Young Matildas coach Alen Stajcic has been signed to guide the Sydney FC women's side through its inaugural season of the Westfield W-League.

It-s been the missing link in Australia-s elite footballing ranks for a number of seasons but in October this year women will return to the top level of domestic competition when the Westfield W-League kicks-off around the country.

Like their male counterparts, Sydney FC-s women are tipped to be among the main title contenders, and the team has taken the first step in its chase for the trophy, with Young Matildas coach, Alen Stajcic signed to guide the side through its inaugural season.

Stajcic has an extensive background in women-s football.

Apart from his ongoing involvement in the national program, the 34-year-old has been in charge of the New South Wales Institute of Sport-s women-s squad for the last 7 years, and he-s excited about the growth he-s seeing in the game.

“I can-t even express how important a component it is in the pathway and development of the profile of women-s football,” he said of the new competition. “Hopefully like the A-League with the men it-ll add that extra piece in the puzzle to give the players the preparation they need, and also the incentive for the next generation to play at a higher level.”

Sydney FC-s W-League side will be a three-way partnership between the Hyundai A-League club, NSWIS and Football New South Wales, and with most of Australia-s top female players involved, Stajcic believes the league will provide a major boost for the women-s game.

“It-s shaping up to be well organised, which is the first step, the FFA have put a lot of hard work into it,” said Stajcic. “Getting Westfield on board as the major sponsor is just a massive boost, and hopefully others will follow.”

The former NSW Sapphires mentor believes attracting female fans will be the key to the competition-s long-term success.

“Women traditionally haven-t come out to support female sport that often,” he said. “I guess this-year-s netball league was the first time that a female sport really got a high profile, so hopefully the W-League will go along the same path and be popular as both a spectator and a playing sport.”

The new coach is currently in the process of selecting his squad, and with players like current Matilda, Heather Garriock headlining the list, he believes Sydney can start in style.

I think we-ll be one of the contenders to take it out, we-ve definitely got a strong presence of Matildas in there,” said Stajcic. “It-ll definitely be between us and Queensland I feel, but Perth isn-t bad and Central Coast will be ok as well so it won-t be an easy competition.”

It-s expected Sydney-s first fifteen players will be registered over the coming week.

Trials are underway for the final few places, with the squad likely to be finalised within a fortnight.