Opinion: 2016 -Time is right for Women's International Cup
Wednesday, December 09 2015 @ 10:25 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Troy Thompson
The International Cup should segregate. The women and men should play the next iteration of the International Cup separately. Just two years after the last International Cup was held, I firmly believe that the women’s International Cup should be played in 2016.
It is because 2017 will be year zero for the AFL Women’s National league. Because 2016 will be the time for the best women in footy to audition for the (assumed) historic draft that will fill the first teams of the league. And a women’s international tournament will allow the best women footballers from Oceania, North America and Europe to show their wares in Melbourne before the talent scouts from the new teams.
Already AFL clubs such as Adelaide, West Coast, Fremantle, Geelong as well as Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are likely to field teams. It is all falling into place relatively quickly since AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan came on board in April 2014 and moved the reality of a national Women’s League forward from a widely anticipated 2020 forward to 2017.
Sure most of that talent in the first year of the league will come from Victoria and the rest of Australia. But let’s make sure the competition starts with the best talent the world has to offer. We know there are at least some Irish, Canadian and American players that should be considered for the 2017 league. Bring the world along with the competition don't leave it behind and hope they can bridge the vast gap later on.
We would expect teams from PNG, Fiji, Tonga, NZ, USA, Canada, Ireland and England to attend a 2016 Women’s International Cup with possibly one or two other European teams or a combined European team (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France and Croatia all had teams at the 2015 Axios Cup). Perhaps they may even include the Australians (even if it is Under 18’s) in the tournament.
Sure it’s a short turn-around from IC14 and already an August tournament would be just 8 months away from now. But the chance to be part of the national league in 2017 should be a big carrot for players to be a part of it.
Even better for promotion of the women’s game leading into the 2017 league is the fact that the premier football grounds of Melbourne, Etihad Stadium and the MCG are free on the first weekend of September making the perfect venues for finals matches if the AFL saw fit to make them available.
This would take the Women’s Division out of the 2017 International Cup and given the continued growth of both the overall player numbers and number of countries competing at each successive tournament in both the men’s and women’s competition the split may have logistically become necessary before long at any rate.
The split year’s for men’s and women’s tournaments in future may make it easier for the countries to fund and organise their teams by spreading the cost over two years rather than one (it must however be acknowledged that some savings were made by countries with both men’s and women’s teams by larger group discounts and doubling up on staff assisting both teams).
So Gillon (or Grant) make it happen. Get on the phone to each of those countries tomorrow, or tonight and let’s bring all that talent to Melbourne in August/September for the 2016 Women’s International Cup.