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Oct 23, 2008

W-League a big boost for Matildas

Australia's leading female players believe that the new national football competition could help catapult the Matildas into the women's international elite.

The W-League kicks off on Saturday as an eight-team competition featuring all seven Australian-based A-League clubs, plus Canberra United.

Played over three months the W-League will be the first national competition since the Women's National Soccer League (WNSL) was discontinued in December 2004.

Despite the absence of regular domestic competition, the Matildas have excelled over the past four years, reaching the quarter finals of last year's FIFA Women's World Cup, and with it an all-time high world ranking of 12.

"The establishment of the league could be what ultimately helps take the Matildas to the next level," says Matildas and Newcastle Jets skipper Cheryl Salisbury.

"Looking back at last year's World Cup, who knows what could have happened, had the players had that extra experience and edge that comes with playing week-in week out in a competitive environment."

Key Matildas and Perth Glory midfielder Collette McCallum agrees the league will be beneficial for the national team.

"The league will help in many ways but especially for the younger players as they will be better prepared for international football if they have to step up to the national team," she said.

The only Matildas star missing from this weekend's opening round of action is dynamic striker De Vanna who is currently with Swedish club AIK Solna, but expected back in Australia in the coming weeks where she will likely join her hometown club Perth Glory.

Queensland Roar will start warm favourites for the W-League title with their squad featuring up to a dozen players with national team experience.

Their chief rivals are set to be Sydney FC, with Queensland and New South Wales having won six of the nine championships in the WNSL.

The league will kick-off with Perth Glory hosting Sydney FC at Members Equity Stadium with the match to be shown on ABC1.

One match each Saturday will be televised, a first for the women's game in Australia.

Other matches on Saturday see Queensland Roar host Adelaide United, with Melbourne Victory to meet Central Coast Mariners in what will be a curtain-raiser to the A-League match at the Telstra Dome.

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