On the 24th of September 1921, 10,000 people packed The Gabba to watch the first game of women’s football in Australia. To celebrate 100 years since that day, Australian football looked back on what was and what the game can be.
The sport has come a long way since North Brisbane and South Brisbane faced off. Women’s football was soon arbitrarily banned in England soon after. Australia followed and it took until the 1970s before women took to the field again.
The W-League only formed in 2008, and it has been a long road, with the work continuous. Now, thanks to the effort and vigilance of many, the future is brighter for players than it ever has been.
A recent CBA for the W-League has improved conditions for players but now as always, work needs to be done. Leading up to Friday, Women Onside hosted a leadership conference. The event featured keynote addresses by Moya Dodd and Jane Fernandez. Gold Medal winning manager of Canada Bev Priestman finished off proceedings.
To join in the celebrations, one of Queensland’s best was able to reflect on her career at the event in Brisbane today.
“In the time I have been involved in the game, women’s football has grown so much,” said Matildas star Katrina Gorry.
“There are so many more opportunities available to women and girls.
“Our national team shows how popular we are for people and there’s just a clear pathway for now.
“For young footballers, there are players that they’re able to look up to, and games are on TV all the time.
“It’s just been awesome to see it grow so far.”
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Today’s commemorations include the commission of a mural by local artist Sarah Sculley and indigenous artist Kim Walmsley. It will be located at Football Queensland headquarters and will feature the pioneers of the past and the starts of the present day.
To mark the anniversary of that historic day 100 years ago, a re-enactment took place on The Gabba turf. As it was on that historic day, North Brisbane took out the honors.
In South Australia for a football carnival, WNPL squads donned shirts featuring a “100 Years of Australian Women’s Football” logo. The strips were a retro design with long sleeves and collars.
The game has come a long way in a century. The progress made is not taken for granted by today’s stars.
“They are now in an era of women football where basically they have access to everything,” said Steph Catley, of the next generation of players.
“People are interested in what they’re doing and the opportunities are endless…never take that for granted and take hold of all the opportunities that come their way.
“It’s amazing to be a Matilda in any generation, any era. But where football is at now in Australia for women… they can really reap the benefits of that.”
Matildas captain Sam Kerr was also grateful for the position the game finds itself 100 years on.
“From when I first started I can’t remember many fans in the stadium,” she reflected.
“Now, whenever we play at home we fill stadiums. It’s amazing to feel that, I guess family, community-type of love with the Matildas fan base.”
It has taken 100 years and countless hours of unseen work but women’s football is on the right trajectory.
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