Matildas legend Melissa Barbieri has hit out at suggestions the W-League is now a development and says Australia’s top women’s competition is just as good as overseas leagues.
The W-League will look to bounce back from an exodus of some of its biggest stars to European competitions in the past 12 months when the season kicks off later this month.
Clubs have been forced to look at younger up and coming players to fill the void left by the departure of a number of Matildas and overseas stars.
However, Barbieri, who will balance roles as both a player and assistant coach at Melbourne City this season, says that comments implying the W-League is now just a youth development competition take away from what the league has achieved
I’m upset that with a lot of the Matildas vying for European contracts now the W-League has been faulted down to a lower level with it being called a development league.
That doesn’t represent what we are trying to achieve with our league. We want to propel our league to be one of the best in the world and it can be.
It hasn’t been all one way traffic for the W-League with a number of national team players cutting short overseas deals to return home.
Barbieri says for some players the opportunity to play abroad has been a reminder of the high standard in the W-League.
“What we have seen is that some of the players who have gone to Europe may have had the opportunity to play more games but they’ve also learnt the grass isn’t always greener over there,” she said.
“The facilities, the structure, the football and the people we have in the game in Australia not only matches what is on offer in Europe but often supersedes it.
“I think a lot of the players who have returned from playing in Europe are looking at the W-League with a bit more gratitude with what we actually have in this country and not bad mouth it so much.
“Credit to the players who have gone overseas and seen that the standard is basically the same as in Australia, now we need to extend our seasons to match those other leagues. “