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Garriock ready to lead Canberra


Melb City's state-of-the-art facilities setting a new benchmark in W-League

Melbourne City's Laura Alleway celebrates with teammates after scoring against Canberra in November.
Melbourne City's Laura Alleway celebrates with teammates after scoring against Canberra in November.

There can be little doubt that when City Football Group decides to throw its considerable weight behind a project, something special tends to happen.

That influence can now be clearly seen in Australia, half a world away from the city of Manchester, where City's brand first came to the fore, bringing forth long-awaited silverware before spreading to New York, Yokohama and Melbourne.

As Melbourne City's A-League team begins to fire -- and is arguably one of the favourites to take out the 2016-17 title -- their women's, or W-League, side is setting new standards across the competition.

Not only did Melbourne City's W-League outfit go through last season as undefeated champions, they scored a stunning 38 goals and conceded just four in 12 matches. That remarkable run has now been extended in their first two games of the current campaign.

Off the field, it's a similar story of success. This week, City Football Group unveiled an extension to their Football Academy facility in Melbourne, which is dedicated to simultaneously bringing together and raising the bar for their women's, men's and youth teams.

Brian Marwood, City Football Services managing director, is of the belief that such a level of professionalism should be the norm, rather than the exception, for all female athletes.

"You hear everybody saying 'we've never experienced anything quite like this' and I think that's a real shame," said Marwood.

"Why aren't people taking it seriously? Why should the women's game be different to the men's game? There's no reason why a lot of women's footballers can't enjoy a lot of the opportunities that the men get. We're trying to provide a platform for that."

Though Marwood's vision -- which is slowly becoming a reality -- may seem a commonsense concept, City's W-League captain Steph Catley revealed just how dire the situation had been earlier in her career.

"Some of the facilities didn't have showers. Or there was no hot water," Catley explained. "Or the showers were in change rooms that were being used so I would go home on the train cold and miserable.

"There have been some horror shows, but this is a show of what it can be and what we want women's football to be."

City's investment in the W-League through the creation of a training environment befitting their successful team demonstrates the power of the group to push women's football in Australia to a new level.

Indeed, the effect of the new heights reached by City is being felt by players across the continent; players who have struggled now for far too long.

"[The W-League has] really stepped up," Catley said. "Last year a couple of teams didn't have a uniform by finals time. This year it hasn't happened.

"Everyone's got internationals in, incredible players, nice and early and everyone's had a good preseason. If City's had anything to do with that, then I'm really proud of what we're doing."

Rob Brooks writes about Australian football and the A-League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @RobNJBrooks


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