EVER since Australia and New Zealand won the right to host the 2023 FIFA women’s world cup last month, there’s been a sense of anticipation at Fremantle City Football Club (FCFC).
Thirteen-year old Sophia Brooks trains every day and plays for FCFC’s under 14’s division one team on Sundays and says the excitement is palpable.
“We’re really excited about the World Cup. I want to go to the games and get tickets to see the grand final in Sydney,” Sophia said.
Women’s football is big at FCFC; with 291 girls and women playing, the club has the largest female membership in the state.
Women participate in six divisions and make up 40 per cent of members.
Sam Kerr, the current captain of the Matildas, is a Spearwood local who was born in East Fremantle.
Women’s participation in soccer has come a long way in the past century. Though several Australian ‘ladies’ clubs were established in the early 1920s, the English Football Association prohibited women from using association grounds in 1921. The Queensland Football Association followed suit, and women were pushed from the fields across the country.
In 1922, a committee investigating the impact that sport had on girls declared soccer inappropriate for women, who would do better to participate in swimming or horse-riding.
Today, thousands of women and girls enjoy the “beautiful game”. Sophia hopes the World Cup inspires more girls to take part.
“You should just do it. It’s really fun and really worth it, especially when you start to get better because of proper training.”
Sophia’s not the only one delighted by the World Cup news.
“When we heard the announcement it was super, super exciting,” said Steffi Nadilo, captain of the FCFC WPNL team.
“We’re going to be able to now support the Matildas on home soil instead of the other side of the world.”
Visiting FCFC, Fremantle MP Josh Wilson expressed similar sentiments.
“Having our Matildas and other world-class teams playing here will be a great inspiration for more girls to begin or continue their participation in the world sport” Mr Wilson said.
“This is also a great opportunity to look at our community sports facilities and bring them up to grade to ensure they support the growth of girls and women in sport.”
The World Cup will run from 10 July to 20th August 2023. Perth’s HBF park is one of the proposed Australian venues, while Dalmatinac Park in Spearwood has been listed as a training base.
by LOTTIE ELTON