What excites Heather Garriock about the Westfield W-League

THE Westfield W-League is ready to transform itself into a conveyor belt of new talent and be proud of its role in the galaxy of world football, according to one of its most experienced practitioners.

Brushing off the exit of a number of senior Matildas from the W-League thanks to the financial pulling power of Europe’s top leagues, former Matilda Heather Garriock believes that and the effects of a global pandemic have just hastened the W-League finding a new sense of purpose in its 13th year.

Having played and coached in the W-League, as well as assisting with coaching the junior and senior national teams, Garriock believes the competition will hothouse a new wave of talent who will have to step up to the rigours of senior football.

“I don’t think it’s purely a consequence of the pandemic, this was always going to happen regardless of Covid,” Garriock said.

“Our core Matildas were always going to go over to Europe and we’ve known that for several years, especially with the establishment of the WSL (in the UK).

“Given my knowledge of women’s football, I knew this was the trajectory for the W-League. To me it’s really exciting.

“We’ve got players who were in (US) college football and have finished their degrees be able to come and play. We have our young Matildas who will start to play full games. 

“From a perception point of view, you might not have Sam Kerr or Steph Catley or Caitlin Foord in this W-League, but the flipside is the space it creates for our younger players to get competitive game time. Those game minutes will only enhance the national team.”

Garriock argued that the debate about what role the W-League should play in the context of global football is effectively over, finding a place alongside the American and European competitions.

“This is a really fabulous opportunity for the W-League – I don’t think there was a sense of what the competition was looking like or what we stood for,” Garriock said.

“Now it’s certainly going to be a development league, and a league that’s starting to bridge the gap between our younger talent and our Matildas, and give a great opportunity for our youngsters.

“Given the length of our season it’s a great chance for our next generation. There is going to be a really big gap between our current Matildas and the future international players coming through. 

“Equally, don’t forget we have a lot of senior talent still here – Lisa De Vanna (at Melbourne Victory), there’s Claire Polkinghorne, Tameka Yallop and Katrina Gorry at Brisbane, Jenna McCormack has come back (to Melbourne City). It’s hardly doom and gloom, especially with the 2023 World Cup here in a couple of years.”