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Feb 1, 2011

Lady Reds among sport's biggest losers

They're arguably the biggest losers in Australian sport.

Adelaide United's women's soccer team have won two W-League games in three seasons; their last victory was in November 2008.

In three seasons, their goal difference is minus 73.

This season they scored four goals in 10 matches. And conceded 36.

Spare a thought for the plight of Kristi Harvey, one of the Lady Reds' goalkeepers.

"I was under the pump a lot," Harvey said.

"A few points there, it was pretty much damage control."

So why are they so bad?

Coach Mike Barnett says the reason is simple: the hotchpotch women's program in South Australia.

Other W-League teams come from state sports institute programs where they train together for 12 months a year.

The Lady Reds come from the local Adelaide league and train together for two-to-four weeks before the W-League season.

"Until we're on an even playing field with what the other states are doing, we'll be playing for the next 100 years and not win a game," Barnett said.

The new owners of Adelaide United FC appear likely to pull the plug on the women's team.

"They haven't asked to have a meeting with us, how the program works, what it's all about," Barnett said of the consortium of Adelaide businessmen which took over Adelaide United FC last November.

"But they have gone on saying that they don't want to have the women's program any more, it's costing them too much money."

Barnett said the only solution was for Football Federation South Australia (FFSA) to control the team.

"There are some discussions going on at the moment whether the FFSA may take this program on," Barnett said.

"It is going to be the only solution that will change the face of how the women's game is going.

"If it doesn't happen, then it will just stay the same as it is and it will just flounder as it is.

"And we won't produce any good young talented girls and nothing will change.

"Then people will start leaving the game because they'll get disillusioned ... and I would probably be in that basket as well."

Barnett said the Lady Reds were trapped in a vicious cycle.

"It has happened in all the three seasons, we don't get to the required fitness levels and technical standards until pretty much when the season finishes," he said.

"By round nine or 10 ... they finally get to a level where they are more than competitive, but the season is over for us.

"So now they go back to their local clubs again ... next year, we have got to start all over again with them, which is just a waste of time."

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