Football Queensland is calling for every Queensland state school to deliver soccer programs for girls, infrastructure funding for local clubs, and support for clubs to foster inclusivity to build a lasting legacy in the lead-up to the Women’s World Cup in 2023.
- Football Queensland calls for soccer programs for girls in all schools
- This year marks 100 years since the first recognised public match of women’s football in Queensland
- Queensland Academy of Sport captain Ellen Gett hopes one day there will be dedicated women’s football facilities
The governing body for soccer and futsal will today launch its three-year Women and Girls Strategy 2021-23 at Parliament in a bid to drive participation, infrastructure and club development before and after the tournament is hosted on home soil.
It comes as the sport celebrates its centenary season of women’s football in Queensland, which is recognised as commencing with a public match at the Gabba on September 24, 1921.
With 210 schools and 23,051 boys and girls engaged in a Sporting Schools football program delivered last year by Football Queensland, now was the time for investment in “a bigger, bolder and better approach”, the strategy said.
“With a strategic focus on engaging schools and delivering early football experiences, Football Queensland and the state government can drive progress towards gender parity,” the strategy said.
No female or unisex changerooms
In the strategy, Football Queensland president Ben Richardson wrote there was a critical need for female-friendly facilities across the state.
The strategy called for $60 million infrastructure funding from the state government over four years to bring community clubs facilities up to standards, citing a 2018 CPR Group investigation which showed 35 per cent of venues did not have female or unisex change rooms and other field, clubhouse and seating upgrades were needed.
Additionally, the strategy said there was an opportunity for the Queensland government and Football Queensland to set new benchmarks for the entire sporting industry, fostering inclusivity and club development.
“As united advocates for fully inclusive clubs, we can design the framework and deliver the programs that encourage and enable clubs, and their people, to adopt clear, best-practice culture principles,” the strategy said.
Football Queensland has already identified three infrastructure priorities, a Home of Women’s Football in Queensland and Women’s Centre of Excellence, two regional high-performance centres and a boutique stadium, to bolster the legacy of women’s football in Queensland.
Former Matilda and Football Queensland board member Amy Chapman said the purpose of the strategy was to create a legacy off the back of the tournament and ensure there was a foundation for the anticipated growth afterwards.
“With support from key stakeholders, including the state government, we can deliver on what is a bold approach to developing homegrown stars and promoting healthy lifestyles,” she said.
‘Leaps and bounds’
University of Sunshine Coast researcher Dr Lee McGowan, who has researched the history of women’s football for the new Football Queensland History website, said female’s participation had come leaps and bounds in the past decade to five years.
He said one of the key elements bringing about female participation was increased publicity, with a huge factor being players promoting the game through social media.
“It can be no surprise to people that the more attention women’s football gets, the more interested people are,” he said.
Mr Richardson said it was crucial that Football Queensland and the football community work with state and local government on maximising the “immense potential” the world cup holds.
‘Playing with the boys at lunch’
Captain of the Queensland Academy of Sport program and Under 17s player Ellen Gett said she first fell in love with the game at 7 years old, “playing with the boys at lunch” before it grew into a passion and “hopefully one day a career”.
“I would love to see facilities that are solely dedicated to women’s football. For me growing up in football, there is always a men’s club with a girls’ team, not really a girls’ club that is known for their women’s football,” she said.
“I think a lot of young girls should know that women’s football is going to explode in Australia, and we have always punched above our weigh, and we are going to become a country that is known for women’s football and how good we are at what we do.”
The state government has been contacted for a comment.