Westfield W-League attracting international stars

The Westfield W-League is proving a attractive competition for a number of players who have already proven themselves on the international stage.

Women’s football in Australia has already been given a boost for the new Westfield W-League season with the inclusion of newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers FC, but there are a number of players who have already proven themselves on the international stage that are helping to grow the sport’s profile in this country.

With Westfield Matildas and Football Ferns throughout the league – as well as German import Ariane Hingst at Canberra United and Japan’s Hoshimi Kishi at Brisbane Roar – will we continue to see even bigger names moving Down Under in the near future? And what effect will this overseas contingent have on the development of local talent?

Adelaide United showed on Saturday that they are keen to distance themselves from their poor showing last season, edging out Wanderers FC 4-3 in a round one thriller.

The Lady Reds are one of several clubs to have called upon stars with international experience, boasting three Ferns who were part of New Zealand’s 2012 London Olympic squad.

Sarah McLaughlin, Holly Patterson and skipper Abby Erceg all enjoyed an Olympic summer and have returned to add an international flavour to the league. But they aren’t the only overseas footballers plying their trade in Australia.

Ariane Hingst pulled on a green jersey for the reigning champions on Saturday, but the German stalwart is no stranger to Australian football, having played for Newcastle Jets in 2011/12.

The calibre of overseas players can only be seen as a good thing for the growth of the competition, but it does raise the question of whether it will affect the development of local youngsters seeking to gain experience in the nation’s premier women’s football league.

Perhaps an influx of international players will be something that needs to be addressed in the future, but for the moment the Westfield W-League is still a breeding ground for talented Australian youngsters, and every club is keen to see a new star break into their first team.

Due in some part to uncontrollable factors – with seven Westfield Matildas who competed in last year’s World Cup ruled out for the entire season with either lingering injuries or pregnancies – there has been a massive injection of youth throughout all eight teams.

And while international stars will always be welcome to raise the standard and profile of the competition, it’s good to know the local youngsters are currently reaping the benefits of this burgeoning football league.