Women’s football in Australia is booming. At the top end, the national team have not only enjoyed positive results against the world’s best at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ and Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, but their efforts are helping to bring a greatly enhanced profile to the female side of the game. A step down the pyramid and the W-League is also thriving with crowds, media attention and on-field quality, growing markedly each season.
Drill down further and it is at grassroots level where the upward trend is arguably at its greatest. Girls and women are taking up the sport in significant numbers and Football Federation Australia (FFA) are seeking to leverage that with an ever-increasing focus on women’s football. The FFA has even made available a Women’s Football Development Guide, which is a resource intended to guide community clubs at how best to develop women’s football and increase the number of females participating in the game at all levels.
Inspiration and enjoyment
As part of the FFA’s drive to encourage youth participation, a major roll-out of FIFA’s popular Live Your Goals program was held in Tasmania over the past week. The campaign, which was initially launched to coincide with the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011, aims to increase the popularity of women’s football locally, nationally and globally, and demonstrate that girls and women can live their goals through football.
The Live Your Goals program in Tasmania was the third to be held in Australia, following previous editions held in Sydney and the Northern Territory. Known as the Apple Isle, Tasmania is an island sitting south of Australia’s main landmass. Few well-known footballers have come from Tasmania where, traditionally, Australian Rules football has dominated.
But the round-ball game, however, is now enjoying significant traction in Tasmania and perhaps several youngsters will have been set on a pathway to a life in football as a result of the past week’s program. The biggest roll-out of the Live Your Goals program to be held in Australia, saw no less than 11 events take place over a week across various locations between Devonport and Launceston in the state’s north, and the capital Hobart in the south.
Several hundred young players participated, taking part in a variety of football-related activities. On hand at the opening few days of the festival was national team coach Alen Stajcic. A former teacher, Stajcic was able to share his knowledge and experience with local coaches, school teachers and players.
Also present was Australia striker Michelle Heyman, who was recently named a Live Your Goals ambassador. “I was really excited when I was asked to be a Live Your Goals ambassador and having the chance to come to Tasmania and spend some time with the young female players and students has been great,” said Heyman.
“The girls are all so keen, I’m delighted to be a part of this and I hope that being a role model to them will help them dream big and enjoy all of the benefits that football brings.”