Lisa DeVanna signs for South Melbourne

South Melbourne signs Matilda Lisa De Vanna, showing its intent to secure a W-League licence

SOUTH Melbourne has secured a coup in its bid for a W-League licence, with Matildas star Lisa De Vanna set to play for its Women’s National Premier League team. understands that De Vanna will play for the club — potentially as early as this weekend — while also potentially holding an off-field role.

The former NSL powerhouse has made it clear it will bid for both an A-League and a W-League licence, with De Vanna’s signature a clear statement of its intent to play a key role in the women’s game.

One of the best footballers Australia has ever produced, De Vanna has made 121 appearances for her country, scoring 40 goals.

De Vanna has previously played in the US, Sweden, England and has represented Australia at two Olympics (2004 and 2016) and three World Cups (2007, 2011 and 2015), while she was a member of the Matildas side that won the 2010 Women’s Asian Cup.

For De Vanna, who last year spent part of the off-season with American side Orlando Pride, the move allows her to maintain fitness for her W-League and Matildas commitments without the travel and intensity of an overseas stint.

Lisa De Vanna celebrates a goal with teammate Caitlin Foord.
Lisa De Vanna celebrates a goal with teammate Caitlin Foord.Source: Getty Images

The Matilda has played for Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Canberra United over the past three seasons, though the latter was on a guest contract.

South Melbourne is understood to have heavily focused on improving and marketing its women’s program in recent months.

The club initially missed out on an NPLW licence when the competition was launched last year — despite having a long, successful history in the previous incarnation of the state league — but was granted a licence for this year’s league in October 2016.

Aside from De Vanna, several W-League players have committed their winter season to South Melbourne, as the club looks to claim the state league title.

Young Matilda and Melbourne City striker Melina Ayres was at the top of the recruiting list, while Melbourne Victory’s Alexandra Gummer — who has also played in England — and Alex Cheal also signed on.

Were South to claim a W-League licence, it could spell further trouble for Melbourne Victory, which claimed the wooden spoon twice since Melbourne City entered the competition.

A large proportion of Victorian talent has elected to sign with City over the past two years and a third Victorian side would further stretch the local talent pool.

While no dates have been set for W-League expansion, the current nine-team format, with a team having a bye each week, is less than ideal. One more team would see the league on par with the male equivalent, with 10 teams.

South was set to unveil De Vanna’s signature at its 2017 Jersey Night on Friday night.