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W-League winners boosted by new deal

THE celebrations are set to continue for Sydney FC's W-League championship-winning team after Football Federation Australia announced a new state women's football program during the lengthy off-season.

There was a slightly subdued mood throughout the squad members when they returned to Sydney yesterday, with a number facing an uncertain future following the NSW Institute of Sport's decision to axe its football program.

However, the FFA have eased their concerns, agreeing to run a state-wide football program together with Football NSW to oversee the development of women's under-20 and under-17 squads.

''The FFA and Football NSW will run a National Training Centre program,'' an FFA spokesman said. ''It will commence in February. The players are expected to have a bit of a break from the W-League, but it will be commencing towards the end of next month.

''Some of them [the players] have been a bit nervous about [the future] and rightly so, but we've nailed it down. We're happy it's going to happen because a large proportion of national team members at each level come from NSW.''

FFA technical director Han Berger, and Football NSW chief executive Eddie Moore will lead the joint venture, which will run on a similar basis to the model operated at NSWIS.


The new system won't have access to many of the facilities provided by NSWIS and will rely on those offered by Football NSW's base at Valentine Park. The finer details are yet to be established but Sydney FC's W-League-winning coach, Alen Stajcic, has already been singled out as the man to guide the course. Stajcic coached the old NSWIS program as well as the Sky Blues W-League team.

''We will have to go through a coach appointment process. We've had the briefest talks with Alen, but have been waiting until after yesterday to talk in detail with him. We will have a process but I'm hoping that he'll be keen to be an applicant,'' the spokesman said.

Sydney FC defeated Melbourne Victory 3-1 to lift the title without defender Ellyse Perry, who opted to pursue her cricket commitments rather than play in the W-League final.

The dual international joined the Southern Stars for their preparation for the cricket World Cup but the Sky Blues are not criticising her choice and will continue to accommodate her in the future. However, Stajcic warned her ongoing commitments may weaken her place in the starting line-up, should younger players continue to impress.

''We knew what we were buying into and so did she,'' Stajcic said.