Women in football want to have their aspirations understood
I’m delighted to be here, and I’m delighted to be part of Women in Football. Thank you, Minister, for hosting us today.
It is great to hear about some of the initiatives to support women’s sport in New South Wales. As George [Donikian] indicated, I am one of three Victorians on the committee of Women in Football, and while we are very much a nationally focused organisation, I do want to say how encouraged I am by developments in women’s football in my home state. We are particularly seeing massive investments in new facilities for girls and women, including change rooms, grounds and skills development. For years, the lack of this basic infrastructure has limited our participation.
There is always more to be done, particularly in terms of greater diversity at professional and decision making levels. But I hope what we are achieving in Victoria will help guide and support our work across Australia.
My background is very firmly in grassroots and community football. I know how important it is for girls and women playing in the suburban leagues, and volunteering for local clubs, to see female leaders at the top of our sport.
We may not all aspire to be a Matilda, or the chair of the FFA, but we do want our needs and aspirations to be understood by those who do.
As someone who didn’t start playing football until I was 51 (seriously!), I want to put in a plug for older women as well.
Women in Football is very much about working for a more inclusive and representative sport for the next generation, but we must not forget that diversity and inclusion is about more than just gender. As many blokes on the wrong side of 40 or even 50 will tell you, one of life’s simplest but greatest joys is still kicking a ball around with your mates. Older women deserve the space, the facilities and the support to experience that joy too.
Older women also have experience, skills, and wisdom that can enrich our game at every level. We owe it to them and to the game to give them those opportunities, a voice, and power.
Finally, as a long time club volunteer and committee member, I want to acknowledge the work of the thousands of women around the country who help to keep this game alive, whether it’s for their kids, their communities, or to be able to play themselves.
They rarely have titles or appear in the spotlight, but it’s time we gave them their due, and greater support. I believe Women in Football will help to do this, and I urge all those women, and indeed, the men who work alongside them, to join us.
This is the speech given by Committee member, Carole Fabian, at the launch of Women in Football at Parliament House, Sydney, by the NSW Minister for Sport, the Hon John Sidoti MP, on 26 June 2019.