FFA's Wellington Phoenix W-League snub 'a huge opportunity' missed - Tom Sermanni

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New Zealand women's national team coach Tom Sermanni has slammed FFA's decision to deny Wellington Phoenix a spot in this season's W-League.

Talks between the Nix and W-League stakeholders were scuppered at the final hurdle last week, with the FFA rejecting Wellington's proposal to amend player eligibility rules to allow New Zealand nationals to be considered local players -- as is the case in the men's competition.

Sermanni, who was in line to take on a dual role as both Football Ferns and Phoenix boss, says his disappointment is not around the decision per se, or the impasse between the FFA and New Zealand Football, but more at the rhetoric around the football issues -- that a Phoenix team in the W-League would be detrimental to Australian football and the development of young players.

"Rather than condemning a team who is willing to invest significantly to bring a team into the league, the benefits should be looked at," Sermanni told ESPN in an exclusive interview.

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"It would even up the number of teams in the league, which in turn could make it logistically easier to increase the number of rounds.

"Also, Wellington Phoenix would bring a strong competitive team into the league which would help, not hinder the development of young Australian players and, like the Phoenix men's team that currently contains three Olyroos, the Wellington Phoenix women's team would also provide opportunities for Australian players.

"If you look at professional leagues around the world, the Australian league would be the youngest by quite a decent margin, so young Australian players in the W-League probably get more opportunities than young players in any other domestic league in the world.

"When we bring good international players into the league it's seen as a move that helps develop young players, so surely by that logic a strong team from N.Z. containing a number of experienced international players would only benefit the league and give the young Australian players the competition they are looking for."

Based in Australia as he waits for international borders to open, Sermanni has had plenty of opportunity to observe the news cycle and says the absence of women's football stories is concerning.

"I've watched women's sport avidly. I've seen AFL, rugby league, cricket, netball and not a peep about football," he said.

"This was a chance for us to tell a great story, to paint Australia as leaders in the global game. The FFA's 10th principle is based on Australia becoming the centre of women's football in the Asia-Pacific region, this was a chance to show Australia embracing that role and offering incentive for women not just in New Zealand but players all around Oceania to come and play the game.

"How good is that story? I think we've missed a huge opportunity."

"If I touch briefly on the performance gap review, that performance gap started the day that the government decided to implement the 'sport running sport' policy that eliminated the state institutes and the AIS from the elite development pathway," Sermanni continued.

"Elite development was then put in the hands of the sports themselves and what we've seen since then, is that many sports proved themselves inadequate at running and maintaining elite development.

"When you look back to what was in place in 2012 to what's in place now, elite development has gone backwards -- significantly. The reality is that you don't notice that lack of development for a few years but now it's become evident and people are talking about it.

"Australia also had a very young and talented team of players that have stayed in the national team for some time, so that has also blocked the pathway a little bit, but essentially the reason for the performance gap is down to decline of the elite development pathways."

With more than 25 years' experience coaching elite women's football, Sermanni oversaw the start of the W-League and points to the lack of evolution in the league as another part of the problem.

"The W-League has also contributed to that lack of development by only playing around 12 games per season, a number that has not increased since the W-League started in 2008," he said.

"This is clearly an insufficient number of games to contribute effectively to the development of young players."