Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy nearly didn’t came back to Australia to play in the W-League this season. She was one of several Australian players enticed to play in the burgeoning European leagues that loom as the new threat for the country’s top women’s competition. If the leagues’ in England, Italy, Germany and Spain keep growing at their current rate, Kennedy admits this season with Sydney FC could be her last.
“I have had discussions with my managers and I have considered it,” Kennedy said. “I will reassess that after the W-League or even after the Olympics. The European teams are doing really well so that’s probably another reason why people want to play there.”
Already, Europe looks to have poached up to four Matildas who would have otherwise played in the W-League this season. Striker Lisa De Vanna signed with Fiorentina in Italy, Jacynta Galabadaarachchi signed for West Ham, Emily Gielnik joined Bayern Munich and captain Sam Kerr is set to join either Chelsea or Lyon. Midfielder Alex Chidiac is now in her second year at Atletico Madrid.
While Australians playing for clubs overseas is nothing new, the rise in standards, stature and salaries in Europe is a direct threat to the W-League. Unlike the North American NWSL which runs during the W-League break, the schedule of the European leagues clashes with the Australian competition.