Created in the Westfield W-League: History made in America

The game has changed for the Westfield Matildas.

Nearly one year on from their commanding 2017 victory, Alen Stajcic’s side enter the 2018 Tournament of Nations as world beaters.

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The shockwaves made in America now has Australia bearing a target over their collective heads as the tournament prepares to commence.

And every member of Stajcic’s squad will be flying the flag for Australian football and the Westfield W-League when the Westfield Matildas kick off against Brazil on Friday 27 July.

As the Westfield W-League prepares to celebrate its 11th birthday in October, lets look at the competition’s impact in piloting the sensational rise of the Westfield Matildas.

Ellie Carpenter

 

The Westfield W-League has been around for over a decade but it has produced few talents as impressive as Ellie Carpenter. The teenage sensation came from humble beginnings in rural Cowra but is now undoubtedly one of world football’s most precocious youngsters.

Since bursting onto the Westfield W-League scene as a 15-year-old in 2015, the former Western Sydney Wanderer and Canberra United starlet’s rise has been one of the recent success stories of Australian football.

Carpenter recently became the youngest goalscorer in National Women’s Soccer League history after scoring a winning goal against Washington Spirit at 18 years and 22 days old. She has become an established and reliable presence in defence for reigning NWSL Premiers Portland Thorns.

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Although there’s five years of difference between them, it’s difficult not to draw slight comparisons between the teenager’s trajectory and that of Westfield Matildas’ teammate Alanna Kennedy.

WATCH THE WESTFIELD MATILDAS IN ACTION AT THE TOURNAMENT OF NATIONS WHEN THEY TAKE ON BRAZIL, USA AND JAPAN FROM 27 JULY LIVE ON FOX SPORTS

The Campbelltown-born defender rose through the Westfield W-League ranks in similarly impressive style and has won Championship and Premiership honours with Sydney FC.

After six seasons down under Kennedy clinched the NWSL Championship in her debut season with Western New York Flash in 2016. She is now regarded among the most consistent performers in the American top flight.

Tameka Butt and Elise Kellond-Knight are two stalwarts of Stajcic's Tournament of Nations squad and were both starters in Australia's landmark victory over the USA in 2017, with Butt scoring the winning goal.

Nine years earlier the pair of Westfield Matildas veterans were beginning their careers in the Westfield W-League in 2008 at Brisbane Roar.

Since then, the 2010 AFC Asian Cup winners have gone on to ply their trade in the top divisions of Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Japan, inspiring a new generation of Westfield Matildas along the way.

Roar
Butt and Kellond-Knight playing for Brisbane Roar in 2010.

Sam Kerr was just 14 years old when Butt and Kellond-Knight made their professional debuts in the Westfield W-League. Kerr made her debut for Perth Glory one year later as a 15-year-old, at a time where there were multiple obstacles for aspiring female footballers.

Her rise reflects just how far the Westfield W-League has come in a short space of time.

"A lot of people look at this league now and take it very seriously," she said last year.

"In the first few years, people came out for a little bit of a holiday to come see Australia.

"The league at the moment is in a really good place and I think that the Matilda's success has helped that a lot.

"To see how hard my pathway was and to see when I look at the young girls and the opportunity they now have, it's just a different world."

The Westfield Matildas' forward is now one of the hottest properties in world football and was recently named PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year for the second year in a row. Kerr starred for Australia at the Tournament of Nations in 2017, with her first half hat-trick against Japan one of the defining moments of the competition.

Kerr and her fellow Westfield Matildas' teammates will be hoping to repeat their 2017 heroics  when the tournament commences... and you can follow the side in action at the Tournament of Nations with every game live on Fox Sports.

Brazil v Westfield Matildas
Date: Thursday, 26 July 2018 (local)
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
Kick-off: 3.15pm (local) (6.15am AEST – Friday, 27 July 2018)
Broadcast: LIVE in Australia on FOX SPORTS 507

USA v Westfield Matildas
Date: Sunday, 29 July 2018 (local)
Venue: Pratt & Whitney Stadium, East Hartford, Connecticut
Kick-off: 7pm (local) (9am AEST – Monday, 30 July 2018)
Broadcast: LIVE in Australia on FOX SPORTS 505

Westfield Matildas v Japan
Date: Thursday, 2 August 2018 (local)
Venue: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
Kick-off: 4.45pm (local) (7.45am AEST – Friday, 3 August 2018)
Broadcast: LIVE in Australia on FOX SPORTS

Sam Kerr
Sam Kerr made her Westfield W-League debut at 15 years old.
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This article was originally published on the Westfield Matildas website.
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