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The round ball game pioneering again with the launch of Women in Football

Women in Football

The mere fact that groups and associations with an intention to promote inclusivity even exist, says a lot about their importance.

Without awareness, action and activism things rarely change. Just as an acute and improved understanding of the complex issues surrounding men’s mental health and the newfound and fitting determination to address violence against women are important and poignant challenges in a modern and well-functioning western democracy, the empowerment of women in sport is critical.

For some time there has been something of a comfortable status quo in existence, where more and more women have become involved in organised competitive sport, yet their self-determination within it has remained limited.

Much back-patting and congratulatory sentiment has circled around increased participation and success in women’s sport, however, it has stopped well short of allowing women to become more involved in informing and driving the briskly developing and ever changing narrative.

As is so often the case, the metaphor of football can be a catalyst for change.

June saw the Matildas showcased on the world’s biggest footballing stage in a dramatic World Cup Round of 16 loss to Norway. The fervent energy and enthusiasm around the team saw thousands travel to and focus on France and the gripping group matches against Italy, Brazil and Jamaica.

Television viewership around the globe skyrocketed, achieving astronomical numbers in comparison to previous tournaments and the standard of both the individual and team play was impressive.

Yet just 37.5% of those charged with leading their squads into battle in a managerial/coaching role were women. That is testament to an ingrained perception and existing infrastructure that still sees women’s sport as something of a novelty, an add on if you will.

Achieving a stand-alone identity without the need for delineation between the sexes when discussing competitive play is sporting nirvana. It is also something that needs to and will, be achieved.

Australian football has made its stand on the issue with the formation of the Women in Football Association.

NSW Minister for Sport, the Hon John Sidoti MP launched the initiative at Parliament house last Wednesday. The FFA has given its full endorsement and aims to work collaboratively with and in support of the new group.

FFA Chairman Chris Nikou categorically verbalised that support. “From my perspective, anything that encourages and supports more women to get involved in our game, the better,” he said.

The Women in Football Association has similarities to the United Kingdom’s model, with aims to promote and support gender equality. That not only means a continued effort to expose young girls to the game and encourage participation but also to establish a network of connectivity that benefits players, coaches and officials alike.

Women in Football President and international football reform advocate Bonita Mersiades cited the long standing “under-representation of women in football”, even though it was a sport that attracted women of all ages at all levels as volunteers, administrators, players and fans.

Mersiades and her fellow committee members are unified in their belief that a national association with a focus on “networking, collaboration and professional development from grassroots up, is long overdue”.

The committee has eight members and a considerable and divergent group it is. The secretary of Brunswick Zebras Carole Fabian, President of South Hobart FC Vicki Morton and the director of Heartbeat of Football Elia Santoro are three respected voices in the game.

CEO of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation Lesley Podesta, journalist George Donikian and Western Sydney University Associate Professor Jorge Knijnik also bring an array of skills and knowledge to the committee.

The eighth member is former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, a man with potentially as much knowledge as anyone when it comes to the inner workings of the women’s game.

Not only will Women in Football support the players, managers and the peripheral women in the game, it will also compile a definitive and accessible professional contact list, in an attempt to advocate for increased employment opportunities for female football professionals.

That network aims to provide federations with a resource to identify suitably qualified women, appoint them and address the existing imbalance via improved professional development and opportunity.

It looms as a ground breaking initiative, both for the women and girls involved in the game as well as Australian football in general.

The journey to true inclusivity and equality continues, with Women in Football now likely to accelerate that rate of change and advance the women’s game another step in the short to medium term.

Membership of the Association is just $25, open to men and women and the relevant details can be found at womeninfootball.org.au.

Local Sports Infrastructure Fund

The new $22 million Local Sports Infrastructure Fund is a state-wide competitive Victorian Government investment program that provides a range of grant opportunities across five funding streams.

Kate Jacewicz announced as AFF Referee of the Year (Women)

female referees A-League Football Victoria's

Leading Australian referee Kate Jacewicz has been honoured by being named the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Referee of the Year for women.

It was announced recently at the gala AFF Awards held at Hanoi in Vietnam.

Jacewicz received this award off the back of another tremendous year with the whistle, including officiating her ninth Westfield W-League Grand FInal in February 2019 between Sydney FC and Perth Glory.

Jacewicz has been recognised as the W-League referee of the year seven times and part of the 75 match officials around the world who refereed at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

It’s added to her impressive list of career achievements which also includes her making history by becoming the first female to occupy a spot on the A-League Referees Panel, helping out with both A-League and W-League matches.

In a statement by Football Federation Australia and chair of FFA Referees committee Chris Nikou, they congratulated Jacewicz on her significant achievement and her professionalism she continually shows.

“Kate is one of the world’s finest referees and thoroughly deserves this award. Whatever the game, whatever the level, she is a model of consistency and class,” Nikou said.

“Her work on the pitch is a reminder to us all just how vital referees are to the lifeblood and well-being of our game.”

Source: https://www.ffa.com.au/news/kate-jacewicz-named-aff-referee-year-women

South Australia back 2023 Women’s World Cup dream

The South Australian government have confirmed they will support Australia’s quest to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

In the process, South Australia have become the third state, alongside NSW and Queensland, to wholeheartedly get behind Australia’s bid.

The Matildas played in their first match in Adelaide since 2006 last night, defeating Chile 1-0 in front of 10,342 fans.

The crowd figure was the largest ever attendance for a women’s football international in the City of Churches.

Emily Gielnik scored the only goal for the Matildas, with superstar Sam Kerr having her penalty saved just before half time.

If Australia wins the hosting rights to the 2023 tournament, Adelaide will host games at the boutique Hindmarsh Stadium.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall claimed the State Government was ready and excited about the prospect of bringing the 2023 Women’s World Cup to Australia.

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup is a massive event to add to our sporting calendar, and Adelaide will be a fantastic location for the competition,” said Premier Marshall on Tuesday.

“The Matildas are a shining example of Australian sporting prowess and hosting the World Cup will allow them to showcase their skills on the biggest stage in their own backyard.”

Outgoing FFA CEO David Gallop said he was delighted that South Australia had agreed to support the bid, after initial reluctance.

“The announcement today is a tremendous boost to our hopes of hosting the tournament in 2023. We are thrilled that South Australia have committed to be part of the bid, which will be stronger for their participation.

“It shows just how popular the Matildas are, and I’m sure the South Australian public will be absolutely delighted that Premier Marshall shares our vision and will bring matches to Adelaide should we be successful in our bid,” Gallop added.

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