Women’s soccer players in Australia’s A-League have worn their scarves, shirts, underwear and scarlet socks with abandon in a desperate bid to prevent the sport’s demise from taking hold in Australia.
The Australian Women’s Soccer Association is struggling to cope with the impact of the women’s World Cup, with many players saying the women are oversold, according to Fairfax Media.
“I feel like it’s not really a sport,” Sydney FC’s Emily Hughes told The Sunday Age.
“We have a lot of games in our first few weeks and they’re just not that exciting.”
Hughes and fellow Sydney FC striker Amy Schmitt have been part of Sydney FC for the last three years.
They are contracted to the A-league until the end of 2020, but are set to leave for other clubs in 2017, after the women won the AFL Women’s Championship.
“The players, they’ve got a bit of a chip on their shoulder at the moment,” Sydney coach Jill Ellis said.
“They’ve been through the wringer, and they’ve just got to get through it.”
But I think there’s some good young girls here that are hungry to go out there and try and make a difference.
“Huges, who was born in Sydney, said the pressure of the World Cup was making the women reluctant to return.”
It’s just hard to get back on the field.
It’s tough,” Hughes said.
Ellis said the women had been told not to wear scarves or shirts that were less than a full size.”
If they have a small scar or if they have something that’s less than that size, we’ve said no to that,” she said.
The A-FL women’s game was held in Melbourne this week, with both clubs playing to a crowd of about 3,000 people.
In Sydney, the game is being watched closely by the Aussies national team, which has played just five games in its four-year history.
Elles said the ABL was trying to build a strong national brand and to show players the sport was still alive in Australia, despite the World’s Cup.”
There’s some fantastic girls out there, and we’ve got to be there for them,” she told the Sunday Age, adding: “We want to get a big, successful, national brand out of women’s sports.
“Ellis also confirmed the AAB would not be releasing a final list of teams for the next round of the AISB, due to a lack of players.
She said the clubs had also discussed making the national team a mandatory requirement for the AITC and A-ELT, the two major regional competitions.”
Our national team has been really, really good,” she added.
The first round of matches is set to begin in Melbourne on February 15.