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Manton St Tales

W-League is a great product, so why aren't more people going to games?

Manton St Tales

W-League matches provide an affordable and accessible way to watch high quality football. More people should be attending, writes Spiro Karanikos-Mimis.

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1074 – that’s how many people watched Adelaide United’s win against Perth Glory in the W-League at Marden Sports Complex last Saturday.

That was actually a decent number compared to usual attendances, but it’s not nearly enough.

COVID-19 protocols meant that the capacity at Marden was limited to 2000, but the fact we didn’t get closer to that number is very disappointing, especially considering the gap between home games for the A-League team.

I’m fortunate enough to call women’s football for Football South Australia.

I’ve been able to see the rapid rise of the women’s game over the last five years.

Knowing a few of the women who play for Adelaide United, I can tell you categorically that they train very hard and give it their absolute all on match-day.

Let’s use United’s captain Dylan Holmes as an example.

Holmes is a superstar footballer. She has worked hard to make her name in the game and continues to do so.

All things being equal, she will be capped by Australia (as a quirky side note, she’s also eligible for Brazil and the USA).

Holmes has bounced back-and-forth from the Women’s NPL to W-league without an extended break for nearly three years now.

She may have been lucky to get two or three weeks off between seasons.

She has been training and playing soccer all year around for 36 months.

Remuneration for WNPL players is low and therefore they need to balance their sport with work and study commitments.

You’re starting to an understanding of just how committed these women are.

Holmes’ situation is just one example of the sacrifice many women athletes make.

I often find women’s soccer refreshing. It is competitive and tough, played in the right spirit and with passion.

They don’t shirk a challenge and many of the theatrics which can blight the men’s game simply don’t happen when women play.

So why aren’t more people going to support the Reds in the W-League?

It’s a question which has irked me for a while.

Watching the W-League at Marden is a great family experience.

I attended the game last Saturday with my young son. The whole outing cost me five dollars. Yep, five big ones. That was for the bucket of hot chips my boy wanted.

(As an Adelaide United full season ticket holder, I’m entitled to free entry to all W-League games. My son is under the age of five so his admission is also free. A pre-sold general admission ticket to an Adelaide United W-League match is $12).

There are not many things you can do as a family on a Saturday night that will leave you with change from a 20.

I took a football and spent a good 15 minutes having a kick-around with my son before the game started as the western side of Marden has a hill with soccer goals on the flat part.

You also have the option of sitting on seats behind the goals or in the eastern grandstand, or bringing a rug and sitting on western side.

And, as I mentioned, the quality of football is very good.

It’s this unique cocktail which makes attending the W-League so enjoyable.

I can only assume that too many people have a genuine dislike for women’s soccer simply because women are playing.

A perception still exists that women aren’t good enough or that it’s tokenistic to have a female league.

This stone-age mentality should have gone the way of the dodo. The reality is, too many people have an insincere response to women’s sport.

“Of course women athletes should be treated equally,” is what they’ll say publicly to avoid conflict. Deep down, they don’t believe it or mean it.

It’s actually sad.

Adelaide United’s next W-League home match is on Thursday 21 January.

Let show them the support they deserve.

And another thing…

Emily Condon was superb last Saturday against Perth.

The young veteran has had a few tough years, primarily due to concussion, so it was great to see her playing so well.

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