Western United confirmed as new A-League Women's team

Western United will officially join the A-League Women for the 2022-23 season, becoming the 11th club in Australian women's football's highest tier.

In a Thursday announcement, United and A-Leagues operators the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) confirmed that the third-year A-Leagues club would receive a licence to compete in the 2022-23 ALW season.

"It's been a two-year process to get to this point," United CEO Chris Pehlivanis told ESPN.

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"It's a day that makes me and the club very proud because now we stand for boys and girls in the west to have aspirations to play at the elite level. When you're able to do something like that, it can only be a positive for what we're trying to create.

"We're grateful to be a club that is whole. A club that has all the elements of a strong club. And now we can compete."

Seeking to take advantage of the significant halo effect from the upcoming 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the APL announced as part of proceedings surrounding Wellington Phoenix's entrance to the league that its intention was for United, as well as Central Coast Mariners, to enter the ALW for the 2022-23 season.

With that declaration made prior to the descent of the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent havoc that caused the leagues, there were concerns that this timeline would be pushed back -- disquiet partially alleviated by today's announcement.

Its entrance now confirmed, United will seek to stage as many double-headers as possible with its men's side at venues across Melbourne, Ballarat, and Tasmania across its first year.

Talks are also underway surrounding staging standalone fixtures at City Vista Reserve in Caroline Springs, which hosted a meeting between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC during the 2021-22 ALW season.

City Vista Reserve will also serve as the club's main training base in its first reason, a role the venue served for the club's men's side before their move to AFL side Essendon's "Hanger" facility.

United recently began construction of an elite training facility in Tarneit that will eventually serve as the home of its men's and women's programs and will also feature a 5,000-capacity ground capable of hosting ALW fixtures.

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The announcement of the club's first coach and inaugural signings are expected in the coming weeks, with it likely that NPLW powerhouses Calder United, who the club has had a partnership with since late 2020, will feature prominently.

This partnership, in effect, will provide United's ALW side with a near full junior setup almost straight out of the gate, while Calder coach Mark Torcaso oversaw a United women's development squad that travelled to Tasmania alongside its ALM team in April.

"It's been a long journey but one that I am so proud to have been a part of, and now I am just so happy that we finally have this opportunity that we can give to our girls of the West," said Amanda Stella, who is both Calder's president and United's women's football integration manager.

"To have young girls of the West with something to aspire to, role models to look up to and a distinct pathway to map out for their own journeys is what we've been striving to achieve."

But with Western United set to join an ALW market featuring defending champions Melbourne Victory and powerhouses Melbourne City, ESPN understands that the club has already begun identifying potential Matildas and marquee signings for its first season, a process that will accelerate with today's announcement.

"We've always been an ambitious club. We'll do our best to compete," Pehlivanis said.

"We're on a journey, we don't know exactly what year one will look like but we're an ambitious club that loves to compete.

"We'll be going in to compete."

Though today's announcement only covers United's entrance to the competition, it is understood that the Mariners remain committed to returning to the ALW for the first time since the 2009 season.

Further, the APL intends to make more announcements surrounding both the expansion of the ALW's participatory clubs and the length of its season in the coming months.