Good cop Dower living her football dream

11 Dec 2020
  • Former Australia international Rae Dower has achieved much in the past decade

  • National U-17 coach recently appointed FFA women's technical adviser

  • Former police officer says former job brings perspective to coaching

A popular and engaging figure in Australia’s football fraternity, Rae Dower’s sheer passion for the game constantly shines through. And that raw enthusiasm for football has taken her on a colourful journey over the past decade.

Dower gave up a long career as a detective sergeant in the police force and the dividends have been enormous. Dower was recently appointed Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) Women’s Technical Adviser. It book-ended a decade that began with Dower coaching at local level and Queensland’s youth representative teams.

In the interim, Dower scored a coaching appointment at Canberra United, quickly proving her credentials with a title in just her second season at the capital club. In 2017, the former three-cap national team defender was named Australia U-17 women’s coach.

Dower also holds an AFC Pro Diploma and took part in the inaugural FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme. It is quite the CV.

Her thoughtful and relaxed nature on the bench is perhaps a result of a previous life wearing the police badge. “I don't really consider football, or coaching to be 'stressful'...it is a sport that I love, am passionate about and share with people.” Dower told FIFA.com. “Dealing with some volatile situations in policing, that can be quite stressful ... when you've drawn your firearm and you need to consider whether you'll use it or not.

“I'd like to think that my policing experience has also afforded me insight and perspective around what's 'stress' and what isn't. The ability to manage people, deal with conflict resolution, mediation ... they’re all highly transferable skills that I've developed over my long policing career."

Dower’s ability to mentor and guide means she is a perfect fit for Australia’s youngest national team, with the teenagers making a tricky step-up on and off the field. The Queenslander also had a chance to employ her engagement skills last year as her young team toured several Pacific nations, with the trip as much about developing relations and life-skills, as much as it was football.

Dower says her passion for women’s football is enhanced by the game’s collegiality and spirit, virtues underlined at the FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme.

“There is a real sense of community throughout the WOSO world and a genuine desire to help others to grow the game,” she said. “The huge numbers of selfless volunteers that keep the women’s game moving along all over the world doing it for unrivalled love and passion for the game. They use all their holidays, their savings and their sleep to support their teams and county play...it really is a wonderful, supportive community.

“That really stood out for me attending the FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme the last couple of years. We were essentially 50 strangers of coaches...mentees and mentors together sharing knowledge and experience to help each other grow and develop because that’s what’s required to see our game prosper. Total sharing, no egos, just bound by the love of the game and a willingness to see it grow together and we became a real family.”

Australia, along with New Zealand, is very much in the spotlight with the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ heading Down Under in 2023. This football missionary is excited by the prospect of being able to convert some local non-believers.

“I’m most excited about showcasing to everyday Australians how amazing the game of football is. It will be impossible for them not be swept up in the atmosphere of the fans, the chanting, the singing, the friendly rivalry which will take over our streets.

“I’ve been lucky enough to travel to the last four FIFA Women’s World Cups and go to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, so I am excited about my friends, family and all of Australia getting the opportunity to experience this for themselves in our own back yard. The rest of the world loves this game so much and I feel it will be that landmark occasion for Australians to actually ‘get it’, for that penny to finally drop and understand what all the fuss is about.

“To cap that off with holding aloft the trophy as World Cup champions would be a dream come true. I know I will spend the next 980 days championing that to happen.”

Australia U-17 women's national team coach Rae Dower (Pic courtesy Ann Odong)