South Melbourne FC Womens’ team will take its place in the premier state competition for women next season, after the FFV announced last Friday that the Lakeside club’s application for a PS4-NPL Women’s Licence was successful.

A surprise omission from the inaugural season of the competition in 2016, South was one of three clubs which applied after the FFV announced it would expand the current NPL-W competition to include a 10th club in season 2017.

The Lakesiders join two other Greek-based clubs, Heidelberg United and Box Hill United, which are foundation members of the NPL-W competition.

Director of women’s football at SMFC, Gabrielle Giuliano, speaking on the club’s site said: “We are extremely pleased with the outcome and we can’t wait to get started. I would personally like to thank the team behind the scenes for the hard work in putting the bid together and I am certain that the hard work will continue over the next few months to prepare for the upcoming season.”

SMFC Women’s senior coach Socrates Nicolaidis told Neos Kosmos his phone ran hot with congratulatory messages after South’s successful bid was made public.

“We were quietly confident, but you never know with applications like this, but the players were ecstatic. The players want to play at the highest level. The coaching staff wants to compete at the highest level and we feel we can take South Melbourne to the next level. And the next level is the W-League. Obviously we’ve got to perform in the NPL but I’m pretty confident that the future for South Melbourne, the facilities that we have, we need to be knocking on the door of the W-League as well,” he said.

“I think we’re going to see another level of competition with South Melbourne being involved in the NPL-Womens league (in 2017). We feel we’re going to raise the bar.”

South is holding NPL trials this week and coach Nicolaidis revealed “we have quite a few players wanting to come and trial for us. I can’t name players but we have W-League players, Australian U20s talking to us”.

“Basically, there are no guaranteed positions other than competing. I want two players competing in each position. I’ve told our players and they know I feel we have a responsibility to the women’s game to improve the standard, the speed of the game and really embrace football as a whole, so we can get more girls involved in the game. Our goal is to one day fill Lakeside with as many people as we can to watch a women’s game. We’re driven by that.”
According to the FFV, “South Melbourne FC’s application showed the club’s rich history of providing and promoting women’s football, its access to a premier facility and a comprehensive plan for governance, coaching and player development”.

“The assessment panel was also impressed with the club’s commitment, including recent operational and governance changes which have been implemented to promote and develop women’s and girls’ football at the highest level.”

The FFV believes the expansion of the NPL-W league to include a 10th club is an important step to take strategically to help provide and expand the opportunities for talented female footballers, which could increase in numbers due to the rapid growth of female participation at junior levels.

“The establishment of Playstation 4 NPL Victoria Women’s and the inaugural season were the first steps for a thriving competition and Talented Player Pathway,” said FFV president Kimon Taliadoros regarding the decision to expand the league.
“It is an exciting time for football as our player participation numbers reinforce emphatically that football is the game of choice for Victoria’s women and girls. I would like to congratulate all applicants on the quality of their applications and their continued commitment and hard work in the women’s game,” he added.

“Roy Morgan Research tells us that football is the number one sport for Australian children aged six to 13. For the first time more girls are playing football than netball. The game is growing at such a speed in Victoria that we must be ready with a pathway that gives all female players the opportunity to reach their potential and to achieve their football ambitions and goals. Victoria’s NPLW competition is a critical part of that pathway.”