2023 Women’s State Cup Preview: Azzurri hopes to go back-to-back

The Women’s State Cup will return this weekend to Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility for its sixth year. The three-day competition gives NPL Women’s NNSWF clubs, community football teams and a NNSWF Indigenous representative team the unique opportunity to go head-to-head.  

A record-breaking 21 teams will take part in the event this year, including all eight NPL Women’s NNSWF clubs.  

Charlestown Azzurri are eager to emulate their success from last year, taking out the Cup in 2022 after defeating reigning champions Maitland FC 2-0 in the final.  

Azzurri coach Niko Papaspiropoulosis is hoping his side can get the job done for a second year in a row.  

“It’s hard not to want to defend your title. Obviously, we want to go all the way,” Papaspiropoulosis said.  

“Another trophy is up for grabs. We have something to defend and play for. 

“We want to win every game we go into. 

“We are keen to get out there, get minutes into our squad and do the best we can.” 

But Papaspiropoulos is not naive about the threats the community teams can pose, making it a tight contest.  

“Our group is quite tough,” Papaspiropoulos said.  

“I am very interested to see how we match up to teams like Coffs Harbour, as the competition is quite strong up there.” 

Away from results, Azzurri are looking forward to the opportunity for their whole squad to come together and for less experienced players to get some valuable minutes on the pitch.  
“Everyone is excited,” Papaspiropoulos said.   

“It's a great team bonding experience” 

“This competition is a chance to give the wider squad minutes and to see up and coming players against top teams.”  

Maitland FC’s coach Keelan Hamilton excited is heading into the tournament and is also looking to give less experienced players a run. 

“We are really looking forward to it,” Hamilton said.  

“We have a tough schedule so we will be giving some players a break, which means that we can give opportunities to some under-17s players to come into the group.” 

“The plan is to focus on ourselves and give some valuable experience to some of our younger players.”   

But the Magpies still have their sights on retaining the silverware, doing all they can to get to the big dance.  

“We will be aiming to perform well and do the best we can in the competition,” Hamiton said.  

Hamilton recognises the importance of holding a tournament that includes clubs from different competitions and areas across northern NSW.  

“I think that it’s really vital that clubs from all around the federation are given the chance to compete against each other,” Hamilton said.  

“The depth of women’s football is growing and hopefully in years to come it will continue to expand and be something similar to the Australia Cup competition.” 

As well as the eight NPLW NNSW clubs in action, the competition will also feature community cubs Lake Cathie FC, Tornoto Awaba JFC, University of Newcastle Women’s FC, Greta Branxton FC, Coffs City United FC, Swansea FC, Port Macquarie United FC, Cooks Hill United FC, Garden Suburb FC, Kempsey Saints FC, Lochinvar Rovers FC and Bellbird FC. 

For the second time a NNSWF Indigenous Women’s representative team will also be competing in the competition, consisting of First Nations players and coaches from throughout northern NSW. 

The squad will feature a number of players who recently participated in the 2023 NAIDOC Cup, including Kalani Ryan who was named Under-16s Girls Player of the Tournament.  

Female Participation and Inclusion Officer as well as Team Coordinator Nat Boyd is hopeful that the girls that played in the NAIDOC Cup can bring the momentum into the squad for the weekend.  

“The NAIDOC Cup was a huge success, and with multiple girls backing it up in the Women’s State Cup this weekend, I hope we can continue the success both on and off the pitch,” Boyd said.  

“It’s fantastic for the girls to be given another opportunity to represent their cultures and communities on a big stage.”  

2023 Women’s State Cup Draw:  

Group A  
Broadmeadow Magic FC   
New Lambton FC  
Lake Cathie FC  
Toronto Awaba JFC  
University of Newcastle Women’s FC   
Greta Branxton FC 

Group B  
Charlestown Azzurri FC  
Adamstown Rosebud JFC  
Coffs City United FC  
NNSWF Indigenous Team   
Swansea FC    

Group C  
Newcastle Olympic FC  
Mid Coast FC  
Port Macquarie United FC  
Cooks Hill United FC   
Garden Suburb FC  

Group D  
Maitland FC  
Warners Bay FC  
Kempsey Saints FC  
Lochinvar Rovers FC  
Bellbird FC