United realises W-League dream

Western United will have a W-League team in 2022-23. (Supplied)

Tara Murray

For a young club, Western United has some big dreams.

About to start its third A-League season, the club has been busy in the background to ensure there is a platform from the ground up for both males and females in the western suburbs.

The next stage in the development is on track, with the club to field a W-League side from the 2022-23 season.

The club had been vocal about its desire to add a top league women’s side, having formed a partnership with National Premier League Women’s side Calder United, and recently setting up a female development squad.

The announcement of United W-League side was exactly what Adriana and Melissa Taranto wanted to hear.

The twins have been in the Victorian system for a number of years, signing with Melbourne Victory when they were 15.

While they have not been part of a W-League club the last couple of years, they said the announcement of a new club in Melbourne’s west was exciting.

Both have their sights focused on a spot in United’s inaugural squad.

“It is so exciting,” said Adriana. “Especially after the last few years we’ve had with soccer.

“In the past two years we’ve played 10 games of soccer due to the lockdown.

“It’s so exciting for Victoria and across Australia as it gives so many young girls the opportunity.”

Mel added: “It’s good news for everyone”

The duo, who play for Calder United, are both part of Western United’s development squad and say the work the club has done with the squad and Calder United has been amazing.

The 22-year-olds believe they are now ready for a real crack at the W-League after struggling a bit while at Melbourne Victory.

“We’ve grown up a lot since then,” said Adriana.

“We were like deers in the headlights and I admit I don’t think I handled it well. We were still young and playing against the likes of Sam Kerr.”

Mel said that experience showed through at the one development squad session they had, where they felt a lot more comfortable than some of the younger girls.

Western United’s head of female football, Amanda Stella, said she didn’t imagine that there would be a W-League team in Melbourne’s west so soon.

Stella came on board at Western United last year after the club formed a relationship with Calder United, of which she is president.

“I thought maybe in the long-term future we would see a side,” she said.

“I think it’s because of Western United’s commitment to the female game, females in general, they’ve fast tracked this in our community.

“The investment, the publicity and the opportunity they have already given to players of the west, players of Calder, is amazing and that hasn’t been done before.”

Stella said there had been a lot of work done behind the scenes in a short period of time to get the club ready for a W-League side.

She said the club had been aiming to have a side for the upcoming season, but in hindsight, with the COVID-19 pandemic, an extra 12 months to get the team ready isn’t a bad thing.

“It’s very exciting, it’s been challenging the last few months,” she said.

“For Western United, it’s an amazing achievement. It’s a young club and they’ve been very much wanting to get a W-League licence since they started.

“We’ve started the development squad, but we only got one session in before we went into lockdown.

“The minute we can get that back up and running we will, that group of girls will hopefully travel a little bit with the A-League team and play some friendlies try and get in some games.

“We have a good pool of girls to choose from for our first W-League team.”

Stella said United’s was to give young players in Melbourne – and particularly in Melbourne’s west- the opportunity to shine at a higher level.

She said with limited spots to play W-League in Victoria, many players were leaving to play interstate.

“We’re going to start new and we’re going to invest in youth as we know where the long-term success will come from,” she said.

“We’re not going to sign 10 ready-made champions. It’s about home grown talent and I have always argued that they could challenge anyone.

“For young girls from the west, there’s a W-league team that will be part of their community.

For the Taranto twins, the next 12 months will be a big.

“We will keep working hard and move forward with Calder United with their season first,” they said.

“We’ll do what we can for them and get as fit as possible and hopefully get into the W-League squad.

“We’re just excited to get out there and play.”