Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)
It’s yet another new look complexion for women’s football in Brisbane. The Premier League has expanded from nine to twelve teams with the addition of The Gap, Olympic and Peninsula. There’s also a new eight-team Capital League sitting below the Premier League.
That adds a new element of promotion and relegation and with a third of the sides in the top tier slated to make the drop to the Capital League next year, it means there’ll be no time to muck about.
With the changes to the NPL structure and then the subsequent backing out of those changes, it throws up an unknown element of how the clubs in dual competitions will go about squad selection so there are bound to be surprises.
Last year ANNERLEY claimed the Grand Final and Elaine Watson Cup but the Premiership remained the missing piece of the puzzle. Coach Anthony Costa says that won’t necessarily be a motivating factor for this year but they’ve already claimed a piece of silverware already after defeating Capalaba 3-2 in last weekend’s Pine Hills Invitational Cup Final.
CAPALABA finished a credible fifth in their first season in the top flight that included a last round win against Logan Lightning to upset their Premiership celebrations. With Redlands re-admittance to the NPL, it doesn’t appear as though there has been much squad leakage so the Bulldogs should be in the fight again at the right time of the season.
EASTS are consistently one of the benchmarks of Brisbane women’s football and to illustrate the closeness of last year’s competition, they lost only three games but still finished in second position. Expect another strong performance and top four finish this year.
LOGAN LIGHTNING was the surprise packet of last year. After competing in the City Leagues in the years prior, it was the perfect step up to finish top of the league come season’s end. Captain Tiarne Petterwood returns after a splendid 2015 where she was named the league’s Player of the Year as well as being the leading scorer.
MITCHELTON and PINE HILLS will continue their neighbourly but friendly rivalry. Word around the traps has it that the Mustangs have strengthened their squad for this season and they’ve certainly been banging the goals in scoring eight against Capalaba and a further six against the Pythons in the third place playoff at the Pine Hills Invitational Cup
PENINSULA, OLYMPIC and THE GAP all make returns to Football Brisbane fold. As flagged earlier, by also competing in the NPL, how they have structured their squad will be keenly watched in the early rounds of the competition. Early indicators are that Olympic and The Gap will have mainly under 20 players in their squad while Peninsula may go with what was originally intended under the original NPL structure and have their under 20’s play in that competition and therefore play their strongest squad in this competition.
SOUTHS are an interesting case. Gary French who was coach of Palm Beach (now Gold Coast City) has made the move up the M1 and from all accounts, has brought most of his NPL runners-up squad with him. Like the other clubs also competing in the NPL, how that flows through to squad selection for the BWPL still remains a little bit of an unknown prospect. Souths recorded a 3-2 win over Toowong in a pre-season friendly last weekend.
Two other teams that will enjoy a close locational relationship are TOOWONG and UQFC. Recording four and five wins respectively in 2015, they will want to improve on those results to avoid potential relegation to the Capital League.
The opening round matches are all to be played this Saturday (home teams listed first):
5:00 – Peninsula v Easts
6:00 – Toowong v Capalaba
6:00 – Mitchelton v Souths
6:30 – Logan Lightning v Olympic
7:00 – Pine Hills v Annerley
7:00 – The Gap v UQFC