Diamond League Retrospective: Part 1

Diamond League Retrospective: Part 1

Eight years on from its inception, we take a look back at the foundation of the NSFA Diamond League, a development focused environment for female players.

Originally run in the G11 age group as a pilot, Diamond League now spans the G12, G14, G16 and G18 age groups, providing minimum training and coaching standards!

It is late 2013 and Girls and Women’s football in the NSFA is facing its moment of truth. This is an era prior to the Matildas becoming the hottest ticket in town. Growth in participation has stagnated. Retention rates are poor and not improving. Since its inception in 1987, only one female NSFA team had succeeded on the biggest stage of all and captured the FNSW Champion of Champions trophy (Lindfield). In the same period, teams from the Manly Warringah Football Association had captured 18 titles.

Compared to similar sized associations such as Manly, Sutherland and North-West Sydney, the NSFA was performing well below its potential.

A prevailing attitude at the time was that girls only played football for fun and the social opportunities that a team sport presented. The concept of offering stronger local competitions, accredited coaches, higher standards of training, pathways to representative football and being competitive against other associations was not the accepted norm that we see today.

It was going to take some visionary leadership to turn it all around. Fortunately, the NSFA was blessed with several key individuals who were determined to provide our female footballers with the choices they so desperately wanted.

Enter Kym Griffen and Brian Norton from Northbridge FC. Northbridge had long been association leaders when it came to providing development opportunities for female footballers and Kym and Brian drafted the original Diamond League proposal in late 2013.  Brian approached the Girls and Women’s football committee where their vision for a girls only development league was soundly rejected.

When it comes to upsetting the status quo and advocating for progress, the NSFA has been served by none better than Kym Griffen. A long-time coach and administrator at Northbridge Football Club, his list of achievements is second to none. He refused to take no for an answer and submitted a revised proposal to then NSFA Board Director Caroline Downing. Instead of implementing Diamond League across three age groups it was agreed that a pilot would be run in the G11 age group for 2014. Depending on feedback it would then be incrementally expanded.

Caroline carried the day with a passionate presentation to both the NSFA Board, and the Girls and Women’s committee. Diamond League was born. Both Caroline and Kym (pictured below) were instrumental in the early Diamond League years, actively organising gala days, recruiting clubs, establishing standards and articulating a vision for the future of female football in the region.

Such was Kym’s passion for the concept that he helped to recruit, coach, and administer teams at two clubs – Northbridge and North Turramurra. In the end, six clubs stood up to the challenge: Northbridge, Lindfield, St Michaels, Hornsby Heights, West Pymble, and North Turramurra. Diamond League was born.

We hope you enjoyed Part 1 of our Diamond League Retrospective. Click here to read Part 2!

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