Last year, female participation in NSFA’s Summer Football competitions experienced significant growth. One of the highlights was the formation of a G10/11 competition at Blackman Park, which was inspired by a local individual with a passion and desire to grow the female game.
Darrin Hanley, Lane Cove girls coach, was determined to rally up numbers to create a female only competition. Darrin, alongside NSFA Competitions manager Adam Cloughton, had a mission to create a new female only league. Together, they worked together to attract enough female players to form a girls only combined U10 & U11 competition for the first time.
With a passion and a motive, Darrin worked closely with NSFA to gain enough attraction from female teams to get a second competition in the works.
“Once Adam’s response gave us the incentive, we immediately emailed representatives of all the nearby clubs, Chatswood, Northbridge, North Sydney, Greenwich, Lindfield and St Michaels, as well as all the girls teams from U11s down to U9s at our own club, Lane Cove FC” said Darrin.
“We still had a few games of the winter season to go, so Belinda spoke to each of our opposition managers about entering their girls in the comp. The response was always positive, with one manager telling us that they had never wanted to enter their team into the comp as there was no girl’s division – needless to say they signed up. Belinda also made it her mission to gauge the feeling of the teams during the Summer Comp and again the response was unanimously great.”
Overall, there were 10 teams that participated In the G10/11 competition at Blackman. Across the board, 1029 of the 3224 players in the competition were female. This 32% female participation rate was a higher rate than the winter competition, which last reason reached 26%.
Given the increase in numbers, Darrin said the response from the participations was positive and the girls were thrilled to be participating in an all-girls competition.
“Win, lose, or draw our girls enjoyed the season like no other they have played in. Making the division encompass 2 age groups (G10/11) was a huge positive for our teams, as the girls still got the tough competition but with an overwhelmingly positive vibe that came from it being an all-girls comp. Through their experience in last year’s Summer Comp, a few of our girls were inspired to trial for this year’s U12s Dev Squad.”
“Last year was the first time we have been able to form a girls only competition at Blackman Park. We have had female teams compete at Blackman previously, but they have had to play in the boys competitions. Last year, thanks to the support of Darrin & Lane Cove FC, we were able to rally up several teams from Lane Cove to form a girls only U10/11 competition. We ended up with a total of 10 teams!” stated Adam.
Adam said the transition to a female only competition played a big part of the success of the program.
“The feedback that we received was that the girls really enjoyed play in a girls-only environment. A lot of players use Summer Football as an introduction to the sport, so being able to play in a girl only competition makes the transition much easier for the players. Having 10 teams register also gave me the flexibility to be able to re-grade the competition to ensure that all teams were getting the best footballing experience possible.”
With this year’s Summer Football right around the corner, Adam and Darrin have a ‘call to action’.
“With the well-deserved exposure of our golden generation of Matildas and the World Cup on home soil just 2 short years away, we believe there is no better time to be pushing the female participation in football at all age levels. From our personal perspective, we want our daughter, Polly, to have inspiration all around her, all the way from her own u11 teammates and the divisions above at Lane Cove through to her hero Ellie Carpenter playing for Australia,” said Darrin.
“Summer Football 6aside caters for players of all ability and experience. It is a great way to continue playing with your teammates and friends during the summer in a social and fun environment,” said Adam.
“Following on from the success of the G10/11 competition, we are making a big push to provide more competitions for female players. We will be forming Female Football hubs at Gore Hill Oval on Monday nights and NTRA on Wednesdays. Other success stories can be seen in the WO30 competition which went from 6 to 18 teams and WAA which went from 12 to 20 teams. A large percentage of players that started playing Summer Football with us last year are now playing Winter Football as well.”
NSFA are committed to the What’s Best For Her Strategy and see summer football as a great opportunity for new players to get involved. We really encourage existing female players to reach out to their friends and get them involved this summer. NSFA are passionate in reaching their goal of 32% female player representation by 2023.
Click here for more details on the WBFH strategy and female football initiatives.
For information of our upcoming Female Summer Football competitions, check out the below flyers, then head to our Summer Football website to register!