Football Australia welcomes first ParaMatildas team

Football Australia has announced the launch of the ParaMatildas, Australia’s first national team for women and girls with cerebral palsy (CP), acquired brain injury (ABI) and symptoms of stroke.

A first in the Asia-Pacific region, the ParaMatildas become the 10th member of Australia’s national teams’ family and the first new senior national team in 22 years.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson was delighted to welcome the ParaMatildas to the fold.

“Today is a momentous occasion for Football Australia as we celebrate the inclusion of the ParaMatildas in the Australian football family,” Johnson said.

“With the launch of the ParaMatildas we are closing the gap in Australian football and ensuring that women and girls have the same pathways as men and boys in our game. This announcement is the result of years of incredible commitment, hard work and belief from many people in our football community, and it will be transformative for our All Abilities programs.

“With Australia co-hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ in 500 days, and as a global leader in women’s football, we now plan to leverage this milestone event to develop a sustainable, world-class ParaMatildas program.  This will demonstrate to women and girls with cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury or symptoms of stroke that football is a game which they can enjoy and excel, and that their achievements will be celebrated by an Australia that embraces diversity.”

More than 2.2 million women and girls live with disability, with 700,000 Australians living with an ABI and one in six Australians set to have a stroke in their lifetime.

CP football is a seven-a-side sport with smaller goals, 30-minute halves and no offside. Players are classed as FT1, FT2 and FT3 depending on how their disability affects a player, with at least one FT1 player and a maximum of one FT3 player required to be on the pitch at all times.

A long-standing All Abilities coach and program coordinator, ACT’s Kelly Stirton will be the ParaMatildas inaugural Head Coach. She expressed her pride at being named head coach and how the potential impact of the ParaMatildas cannot be understated.

“As a head coach in the All Abilities space, this has been a dream of mine to be able to take a team at the national level,” she said.

“Being able to say I’ve coached an Australian team has been a dream because we now have a pathway created from young children to adults and the ability to say to players that they can represent their country.

“This team will stand proudly alongside their Commonwealth Bank Matildas teammates as iconic female footballers and that is an incredible visual that we are portraying as a sport.”

ParaMatilda and London 2012 Paralympian Georgia Beikoff added:

“This will be an absolute dream come true for all of us.  Knowing this will create opportunities to break barriers around the stigma of disability is something that we are all ecstatic about,” she said.

“The girls and I have all faced all sorts of challenges growing up, living with a disability that have been incredibly tough. To platform what we bring as women with CP, ABI or with symptoms of stroke as a national football team, I believe will help pave the way for young girls and boys living with a disability in Australia to face life with a determined and fierce spirit.

“We are so stoked to be able to don the green and gold and join that national team family at Football Australia. In launching a team like the ParaMatildas, I truly believe we will represent and further contribute to the values of diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging that our sport upholds.”

The ParaMatildas will hold their first camp in April as they prepare to compete in the inaugural IFCPF Women’s World Cup in Spain.  The tournament will take place from 8 – 18 May 2022.

Federal Budget commits $97 million investment for sport programs

The 2024-25 Federal Budget, which was released on Tuesday night, includes more than $97 million over two years to the ASC to extend Sporting Schools, the Local Sporting Champions, and Local Para Champions programs, and participation funding to help more Australians get active.

This two-year extension runs until 30 June 2026 and helps kids of all different sports afford an opportunity to play at a local level if they come from and under privileged background.

Football Australia is a part of the Sporting Schools program, with each state offering participation Officers and local clubs that are ready to implement in-school and after-school programs for students of ages up to Year 8, plus all abilities programs.

Football Australia use this program to link local football clubs with schools to facilitate an ongoing relationship and provide further opportunity for students to continue their football journey outside of school, whether that be MiniRoos Kick Off, MiniRoos Club or Junior Football.

More than 24,000 young Australians will be supported with the Local Sporting Champions (LSC) and Local Para Champions (LSP) grants programs continuing for a further two years.

These are fantastic programs that have supported Australia’s best athletes including many Matildas like Courtney Nevin, Cortnee Vine, Alex Chidiac, Teagan Micah and Clare Hunt.

World Cup veteran’s Caitlin Foord and Ellie Carpenter also rose to success with assistance from the LSC program throughout their junior careers.

Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins OAM mentions the importance of this investment to continue critical national sporting programs.

“Once again, I want to thank Minister Wells and the Australian Government for their continued support and investment in Australian sport,” Perkins said in a statement.

“This funding extends critical sport participation programs like the Participation Grant program and Sporting Schools which provides free and fun sporting opportunities to more than two million students each year.

“This follows last week’s announcement of $249.7 million to upgrade the AIS Campus to ensure our athletes have access to the world’s best testing and training facilities, and accommodation ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

This is a fantastic initiative that will benefit football amongst other sports and has a history of helping kids of all skill levels play in their respective sport.

The Federal Budget have put in almost $350 to improve sport, mostly around the 2032 Olympic Games but it is great to see some investment in the world game after the huge success of the Women’s World Cup last year.

The biggest Female Football Week to date draws to a close

Female Football week is at its climax across the country with each respective state firmly involved in what has been a monumental year of growth and perseverance with one of the hottest topics amongst the sporting plethora across the nation.

Symbolising the significant strides in which female football has made down under, off the back of its maiden World Cup hosting tenure.

Football Queensland throughout the grand occasion were busy shining a spotlight upon the continuous growth of participation, encouraging women of all ages to become involved and immersed within the global game.

Football Victoria – Commentary

Football Victoria (FV) celebrated women’s football week in style.

Round 8 of the National Premier League Women’s (NPLW) competition within Victoria was unique throughout its coverage, with every match throughout the round featuring a female commentator.

A monumental feat spearheaded by the FV Commentary team, this was the first time an all female commentary round was executed.

Football Queensland

FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci disclosed his appreciation for the momentous occasion via the FQ website.

“While celebrations like FFW serve as a crucial milestone in FQ’s journey towards achieving 50/50 gender parity by 2027 and helps to further reinforce our commitment to enhancing accessibility and inclusivity, our support is not confined to this week, as we remain dedicated to prioritising our female football community year-round.”

Football Queensland – Award Ceremony

Paying homage to Referees, Club Volunteers, Players and Community Champions of the year was conducted through awards up for grabs.

FQ showcased an award ceremony towards multiple facets of football throughout the state.

A nice incentive dedicated to the recognition and appraisal of the hard work undertaken by different areas of football.

The Female Football Week club of the year was awarded to Central Football Club following their extraordinary contribution to female football within Queensland.

Displayed throughout the clubs commitment to female football, the club are fully dedicated to the advancement of women’s football.

Harvesting a fostering environment throughout the club, alongside the nourishment of young promising female footballers has been symbolised by FQ.

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