By Roy Moore
Women’s football will soon have its own league, similar to the UFL, which is expected to kick off early in 2013. The league will showcase the best talents in women’s football, and is also designed to aid the Philippine women’s national team, known as the Malditas, the team’s head coach Ernest Nierras said, in an upcoming episode of “FTW.”
The league will be made of six or seven teams which will play in a round-robin format three times to decide the champion. Those six or seven teams will be made up of the best players from the upcoming Women’s Super Cup, which will be contested starting August 19 between fourteen teams including Global, Loyola, Superstrikers, Sikat FC and a variety of UAAP teams including Ateneo, UST, FEU, UP and La Salle.
With the Super Cup showcasing the best of the already existing women’s clubs, owners of teams in the upcoming women’s league will get a chance to scout teams and players they want to form a new club from.
The names of these owners will be become apparent over the next month.
With FIFA consulted from the earliest stages, the Women’s Super League is looking to be as professional as possible. The winner of the league format would be representing the Philippines in the AFC Champions League, against competition from other teams in Asia.
Six potential owners have already been identified and the ownership structure is different to other leagues in that they will look for clubs and players to buy during the Women’s Super Cup, to essentially start new teams, rather than allowing pre-existing teams to apply and join.
Malditas will be drafted
One of the reasons for this change in format, and one of the more exciting aspects of the league, is that the Malditas will be drafted. Rather than forming their own team, such as Malditas FC, the players of the national women’s football team would be evenly split between the six clubs. Each of the clubs would have a pick of the roughly thirty Malditas to be drafted so that they begin from a competitive starting place.
After the five rounds of picks, clubs can then trade with each other at will, adding a tactical element and strategic risk – something Coach Ernie was clearly excited about. In addition, National team players will also have a ‘salary cap’ which acts more as a minimum wage than a ceiling as it guarantees that the Malditas will earn at least a certain salary rather than limiting their earning potential.
After the first year of drafting, however, the league will return to the more usual format of signing rights which characterizes European leagues – teams negotiate with each other to buy and sell players with no draft. Coach Ernie explained that a draft would be needed at the start so that one rich team couldn’t just buy up all the Malditas and stack the league – the draft will ensure the league’s competitiveness for the first season and then clubs can manage the transfers afterwards.
Improving the National team
Coach Ernest Nierras was eager to impress that this would “create a market for the Malditas” and lead to incentives for other players to strive to join the national team. The regular football for the women’s players would also improve their fitness and team cohesion for future tournaments.
As coach of the national team Ernest Nierras will not be part of any of the clubs and will remain on the technical side of the league. He hopes, however, that this will massively improve women’s football and make it more competitive with other countries in the region and further off.
One exciting development could well be the inclusion of foreign players, with no limit at the start to how many foreign players a team can field, as countries such as Brazil do not have a women’s league. The matches will be played on several pitches, including the Bonifacio Turf, La Salle, Ateneo and Rizal High School pitches. - AMD, GMA News