Was the 2023-24 A-League Women (ALW) season the pinnacle in the league’s history? Perhaps. There were enough remarkable matches, standout players, captivating storylines, and suspense to fuel endless discussions. However, it’s indisputable that the recently concluded campaign, which saw Sydney FC clinch a record fifth title by narrowly defeating Melbourne City, stands out as one of, if not the most significant since the league’s inception.

Typically, there’s only one season post-World Cup to seize momentum, and after the 2023 tournament, the spotlight was on the ALW. The Matildas’ unprecedented success during the World Cup captured the nation’s attention and reshaped perceptions not just in football but culturally.

While replicating the Matildas’ magic was a tall order, the ALW had an opportunity to harness some of that energy. The league expanded to 12 teams with the reintroduction of Central Coast and conducted a full home-and-away season in 2023-24, a first among Australia’s football codes. The season kicked off with a record-breaking Sydney Derby, drawing 11,471 spectators, setting the stage for what would become the most attended season in Australian women’s sporting league history, according to Australian Professional Leagues (APL) reports.

On the field, young talents like Daniela Galic of Melbourne City emerged, breaking outbound transfer records. Sydney and Melbourne City reaffirmed their dominance, showcasing sustained investment in their women’s programs and comprehensive talent development strategies.

However, amidst these strides, questions linger about the extent of progress made. Cortnee Vine, a Matilda and Sydney FC player, noted that while there were successes, there’s still room for improvement in terms of investment and professionalism, particularly in securing full-time roles for players and coaches.

Looking ahead, financial sustainability remains a key challenge for the ALW. Despite heightened interest post-World Cup, financial strains and strategic missteps within the APL threaten the league’s growth trajectory. Challenges such as limited mainstream media coverage and financial uncertainties facing teams like Newcastle and Canberra underscore the need for sustained investment and strategic planning to ensure the league’s continued success.

Vine remains hopeful for the future growth of the ALW, emphasizing the post-World Cup period as an opportune moment for increased investment in women’s football.