The Matildas’ spectacular performance and the Women’s World Cup (WWC) success was accompanied by a resounding call for action to urgently upgrade female football facilities.
Recent statistics from Football Australia’s 2022 participation report, reveal an 8% increase in football participation. However, the glaring and alarming reality is that only 41% of football facilities are female-friendly.
The successful 2023 Women’s World Cup has highlighted the relative lack of opportunities for female footballers.
Kevin Johnson, CEO of the NSFA, articulated the urgent need for change. “The success of the Women’s World Cup and the fabulous performance of the Matildas has highlighted the lack of opportunities for female players, particularly the lack of female-friendly facilities. 41% of facilities being female-friendly is not good enough to accommodate existing players, let alone the significant growth in female players we are expecting after the World Cup.”
This glaring gap in facilities has resulted in female players, young and seasoned, being forced to endure unacceptable conditions. The discomfort and inconvenience of having to change in car parks and not have adequate facilities and amenities available compared to male footballers is an issue that needs to be promptly addressed to ensure that female players are able to comfortably participate in football.
North Turramurra Recreation Area (NTRA) serves as an example of positive change. Building female-friendly facilities is a core focus of the NTRA Development and includes the construction of four additional unisex change rooms and bathrooms adjacent to the ground, increasing by 11% in one project the number of full-sized pitches in Ku-ring-gai with adequate female facilities.
The recent $200 million Play Her Way initiative, unveiled by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on August 19, 2023 is seen as a beacon of hope. It’s not just about investing in football; it’s about investing in the future of women in sports. It’s a fantastic opportunity to promote healthy lifestyles for female community members and enable them to enjoy the benefits of teamwork and female empowerment that football provides.
The urgent need for change is clear, and the momentum created by the Matildas’ success must not be wasted. With the right facilities in place, the surge in demand for women’s football can be harnessed to create a lasting legacy for generations to come.