Waves make it seven

The ninth season of the WNSL, which kicks off early next month, sees an expansion of the league to seven teams with the addition of Western Waves from Western Australia.

The ninth season of the Women's National Soccer League (WNSL), which kicks off early next month, sees an expansion of the league to seven teams with the addition of Western Waves from Western Australia.

This is the first time that Australia's premier domestic women's competition has experienced growth in the number of competing teams since it first kicked off in 1996/97.

Western Waves join the perennial league members, being the States with a National Training Centre (NTC) program - Adelaide Sensation, Canberra Eclipse, NSW Sapphires, Northern NSW Pride, Queensland Sting, Victoria Vision. Western Waves, in this their inaugural participation, will contest only the first half of the competition.

The new team is not without its star players - Athens Olympians Lisa De Vanna and Tal Karp will now be able to turn out for their native State in the league, as will Qantas Young Matildas midfielder Collette McCallum. All three have extensive experience in the WNSL with other teams.

Hot on the heels of Australia's successful display at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the WNSL provides the next golden opportunity for prospective players also aiming to wear the green and gold. The league continues to provide a significant platform towards national squads selection, at both senior and youth levels.

From a team perspective, there is the fierce interstate rivalry in the battle for the WNSL crown. NSW Sapphires are the reigning champions after defeating old foes Queensland Sting in the 2003 grand final, the two largest States each with a total of three WNSL titles, whilst Adelaide Sensation and Canberra Eclipse have each won once.

Each team will play the other teams twice through the 14-round season (with the exception of Western Waves who will play each opponent once).

The WNSL champion will be decided in a one-off grand final scheduled for the weekend of December 19. The season's action commences on Saturday, October 9.