Women in league of their own

Football Federation Australia and Westfield today announced a landmark agreement in support of the fastest growing team sport for women in the country – women’s football.

Football Federation Australia and Westfield today announced a landmark agreement in support of the fastest growing team sport for women in the country - women-s football.

The Westfield Group's support involves women-s football ranging from the Westfield Championship for Girls, the establishment of a new national women-s league known as the Westfield W-League, and the national women's team to be known as the Westfield Matildas.

The Westfield W-League will comprise teams from each of the seven Australian Hyundai A-League clubs as well as Canberra, and will kick off at the end of October.

“We are delighted to announce this new and historic agreement for women-s football,” said FFA CEO Ben Buckley.

“Women-s football is a big growth sport which is enjoyed by many girls and women and watched by many mums and grandmothers each weekend, and it-s terrific to have the support of Westfield in our efforts to grow and develop the sport even further.”

Buckley said that women-s football has enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 6.3% over the past five years, especially on the back of the performance of the Matildas in the Women-s World Cup in 2007.

“The Westfield Matildas are one of the highest achieving sporting teams in Australia, having made four Women-s World Cup tournaments and several Olympic Games, and football offers a unrivalled career path for talented elite women athletes,” Buckley added.

Westfield-s Group Managing Director, Steven Lowy, said that women-s football is a great strategic fit for the business.

“Last year there were nearly 450 million visits to Westfield shopping centres, 70 per cent of those visits were made by women. What better way to connect that huge number of women who visit Westfield each year than through this sponsorship of one of the fastest-growing sports in the country.

“We have planned a range of activities including player appearances, coaching clinics and game hospitality designed to create real value for our customers across our 44 regional shopping centres in Australia.

“It is one way of us giving back something to the community in a way which encourages a healthy, active and positive lifestyle. Girls will now have more resources, better competitions, more media attention and a clear and organised pathway to the top for our elite women players.”

The Federal Government also contributed funds towards the cost of establishing a televised national women-s league as part of its 2007 election promises.

Broadcast rights are still under discussion.