Women’s South Island League launches ahead of National League expansion

By Logan Smith

The 2023 Women’s South Island League gets underway this weekend, with six teams set to battle it out over ten rounds.

Coastal Spirit, Cashmere Technical, UC Football and Nelson Suburbs qualified from the Mainland region, while Dunedin City Royals and Otago University were the teams to make it from the Southern region.

UC Football, Nelson Suburbs and Otago University will all be making their debuts in the competition.

The league is in its second year, supporting NZ Football’s aspirations to eventually move to an entirely club-based Women’s National League, provisionally targeting 2026 for the Mainland and Southern regions to move to this model.

READ MORE: Women’s National League to expand to 10 teams for 2023 season >>>>

The first round kicks off at 12.30pm on Saturday with fixtures in Nelson and Christchurch.

Nelson Suburbs welcome UC Football, one of two university sides, to Saxtons Fields for what looks a close matchup on paper.

Suburbs had a strong home record in qualifiers, but UC won the first matchup of the year 2-0.

Elsewhere, reigning champions Coastal Spirit will host Otago University, with the home side expected to get the win against the league debutants from Dunedin.

Sunday features an exciting matchup in Dunedin, with last years’ runner ups Dunedin City Royals at home against Cashmere Technical. Both have had good seasons so far and shape up as the biggest challengers to Coastal’s crown.

Game of the week

Dunedin City Royals match against Cashmere Tech has to be the highlight of the first-round draw, with both sides possessing serious firepower and coming into the South Island League on strong form, with the Royals unbeaten champions in the Southern qualifiers and Cashmere having given Coastal Spirit two very close matches in recent weeks.

Last year it was the Royals who had the upper hand in this fixture, defeating Cashmere 3-1 after extra time in the Kate Sheppard Cup quarterfinals and later beating them again 3-1 in the South Island League.

It certainly shapes up as a clash that may paint an early picture of both teams’ title aspirations.

Britney-Lee Nicholson (right) … has previously performed well at National League level with Canterbury United Pride. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Player to watch

Britney-Lee Nicholson was an absolute goal machine for Coastal in the qualifiers, bagging an astounding 15 goals in 6 matches, albeit helped by a couple of real mismatches.

At home to an Otago Uni side that Coastal are favourites to beat, it primes as a real chance for her to start the South Island League in style and get herself ahead early in the Golden Boot race.

Bold prediction

Nelson Suburbs may come into this league as the most unfancied side, having lost to Coastal, Cashmere and UC in qualifying fixtures, but were intensely competitive in all three defeats.

UC Football are a capable side that belong in this league, but I think the Nelsonians may just pip them on home soil.

I’ll go for 2-1.


Games to be played on Saturday June 10, 2023

Nelson Suburbs v UC Football
Saxtons Fields, Nelson, 12.30pm

Coastal Spirit v Otago University
English Park, Christchurch, 12.30pm

Game to be played on Sunday June 11, 2023

Dunedin City Royals v Cashmere Technical
Dunedin Artificial Turf, Dunedin, 12.30pm

Logan Smith

Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.

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