Matildas mark significant milestone

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has honoured the first ever women’s international match by congratulating that team alongside the current Westfield Matildas.

It’s been 40 years since the Matildas took part in their first full international, which was on October 6th 1979 at Seymour Shaw Park in Sydney, playing in a 2-2 draw with New Zealand.

It paved the way for future women players to get involved, with the Matildas still going strong.

Both the past and present have come together at the same venue they started in a special occasion for women’s football.

It’s a time to thank the inaugural members of the Matildas for their contributions that helped encourage other women to get involved and sustain the Matildas side till now.

“These athletes started a movement, not just a team, which has now become one of the most powerful, popular and recognisable in Australia, said FFA chairman Chris Nikou.

“Many of these women worked full time, while playing for the national team and for many years, this continued to be the case.

“There have been 204 Matildas represent our country in ‘A’ internationals over the past 40 years and today we celebrate each of them and thank them for their contribution to our sport.

“Later this month Cheryl Salisbury will become the first female footballer to be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, which rightly recognises the sacrifices and efforts of our female footballers over this time.

“Today many of our Westfield Matildas are full time professional footballers, many playing around the world and when they represent their national team today on home soil, it is in front of big crowds.

“We recognise there is still work to do to ensure our female athletes have more opportunities on and off the park from the grassroots up to our national teams, but today we look back and celebrate the immense strides made.”

From humble beginnings, the Matildas have grown into one of the best women’s football sides in the world.

It goes to show the massive inroads that have been made in the last 40 years and which will continue to be made.

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Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Football Australia sign multi-year deal with LCI Education

Football Australia have announced a multi-year deal with LCI Education’s Australian institution, LCI Melbourne, to become the Creative Higher Education Partner of the Socceroos, Matildas and all Australian Youth National Teams.

In a collaborative endeavour, LCI Melbourne will provide the Australian football community with bespoke creative design webinars and learning opportunities.

Select LCI students will also gain hands-on industry work experience in Football Australia’s award-winning Digital Content and Marketing Teams.

Football Australia’s marketing and creative department has received several awards, including a bronze at the 2024 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for the CommBank Matildas campaign, ‘Til it’s Done’ and TikTok Australia Sports Creator of the Year 2023 for the Matildas account.

The collaboration is importantly going to give students a chance to work with an elite digital marketing team and hopefully continue producing world-class media content that has levelled up the popularity of the Matildas.

The power of media and the narrative is often understated, and Football Australia is putting an emphasis on continuing to grow in that aspect across all levels and age groups in order to build a bigger audience for the game.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson explained the importance of this collaboration for the development of the football community in Australia.

“Football can play an important role in enriching the lives of our participants whether socially, physically, mentally and now educationally,” Johnson said in a statement.

“We are pleased to be stretching our partnerships to embrace new ties to the higher education sector, supporting accessible, affordable, and accelerated education pathways to a wider variety of students.

“The growth opportunities at LCI Melbourne are exciting as we work together to enhance sporting and educational outcomes. We will empower students to dream big, think differently, and turn their artistic passions into powerful forces for change, thanks to the collaboration between LCI and Football Australia’s award-winning Marketing, Digital, and Media Team.

“We look forward to working with LCI to elevate our sport even further through innovative and impactful storytelling.”

President and CEO of LCI Education, Claude Marchand, spoke on the shared values between the two parties and their focus on impacting the football community with their product.

“Being associated with such a powerful, inclusive, and representative brand in Australia is significant for a global education community like LCI Education,” Marchand added via media release.

“We strongly believe that football, with its shared values of commitment, perseverance, initiative, and teamwork, unites our learners and staff across our 12 institutions located on five continents.

“This innovative partnership between LCI Melbourne and Football Australia will undoubtedly create a lasting impact in the community, as the union between education and sport is powerful in shaping tomorrow’s leaders!”

This expansion of the sport’s partnership footprint now sees football supported by some of Australia’s biggest values-based brands including Nike, CommBank, Subway, Qantas, Coles and others.

This partnership is a smart, proactive move by Football Australia to incorporate the two parties by consolidating the link between accessible higher education and the most participated sport in the country with a goal to emphasise diversity and inclusion.

Lake Macquarie City to compete in NPL Women NNSW from 2025

Lake Macquarie City FC is set to join the NPL Women’s Northern NSW competition next year, replacing Warners Bay FC after relinquishing their NPLW licence once the 2024 season concludes.

This comes after Warners Bay’s decision to hand back their NPLW licence after a thorough evaluation of the resources and infrastructure required to successfully manage a premier league program in a rapidly growing women’s football landscape. Therefore, this move will see Lake Macquarie City enter teams into all NPL Women’s NNSW grades, as well as competitions such as the Premier Youth League Girls and Junior Development League.

Warners Bay FC President Nathan Aurisch spoke about the difficult decision:

“The club ultimately found itself unable to meet the increasing demands and criteria associated with managing a Premier program, including volunteers and financial requirements, without impacting the Community Football program,” Aurisch said via their club’s website.

“We want to acknowledge the significant contributions of all our players, coaches, volunteers and supporters that have led to a very successful period of women’s football at Warners Bay. Warners Bay FC will continue to focus on our core business which is to give those girls and boys an environment to enjoy and play football.

“We understand that this transition may be difficult for many and we want to assure everyone involved that this decision was not made lightly. We are committed to support the players, coaches and staff affected by this change. Lake Macquarie City FC has expressed their openness to welcoming Warners Bay FC players and staff who wish to continue competing at the premier level.”

Lake Macquarie City President Steve Graham showed his respects to Warners Bay FC and hopes his club will be the premier pathway and development choice for footballers in the region.

“Our commitment lies in establishing high standards for football education, modern facilities and fostering a network of affiliates that empowers talented female and male players to realise their full potential,” Graham said via a Northern NSW Football media release.

“Transferring Warners Bay FC’s Women and Girls NPLW program to LMCFC aligns seamlessly with our player development framework and overall action plan for the club. We want to acknowledge the fantastic contribution that Warners Bay FC have made to women’s football in the northern NSW region.

“Our club is committed to offering the best development environment for players in the northern NSW football region. We are excited about this opportunity to provide an inclusive pathway for young female players from grassroots to glory with the addition of this licence.”

Warners Bay FC enjoyed a successful run in the NPLW where they were the NNSWF Women’s Premier League premiers in 2017 and 2018, winning the grand final in 2016, having been beaten in the 2017, 2018 and 2020 deciders. The Panthers also won the NPL Women’s NNSW double in 2022 being crowned premiers and champions after beating Newcastle Olympic 4-2 in the Grand Final.

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