THE Fremantle Festival of Community Soccer will be held again at Fremantle Oval, on March 16 next year.
The event this year, during the Women’s World Cup, was very successful, with 360 young females participating in 36 teams. The organisers believe they can accommodate up to 60 teams next year, to compete for the Lisa De Vanna cup.
The 2024 Festival of Community Soccer event will be managed by the Fremantle City Football Club, the biggest soccer club in Western Australia, with 1,000 members, of which 30 per cent are female.
It has 19 women’s teams and two girls teams. The FCFC has its home in Beaconsfield. It was established in December 2014, when the Fremantle United and East Fremantle Tricolore soccer clubs joined forces, so there is a long history there.
Kids can become members of the FCFC from as early as four years old. Already 150 kids aged from four to seven are playing soccer every Saturday in Fremantle and beyond.
The popularity of female soccer has gone through the roof, since the Matilda’s success at the World Cup this year.
Amazingly talented players, such as Sam Kerr, Mary Fowler, Ellie Carpenter, Caitlin Foord, Cortnee Vine, and Haley Rasso, have really inspired young and older women all around Australia, and a lot of men as well – me included.
Tony Estrano, the president of the FCFC, wants to carry the momentum of the Matildas hype forward, and hopes that generous sponsorship will be offered for the Festival of Community Soccer 2024, as it supports equal opportunity for females, and opens up opportunities for young girls.
Fremantle’s John Curtin College of the Arts has had a specialist football program since 1990 which is popular with female students. It is one of only four Perth Glory FC Academy Schools in WA. The football program at JC has produced over 25 international representatives, with several graduates now earning a living playing in Australia or internationally.
Around 150 students go through the six-year soccer program. About one third of them are girls. Many graduates have reached senior national premier league level in male and female competitions, with numerous state and national team representatives at various age levels.
I had a chat with Macy, Ella and Daisy, who are all very happy to be part of the soccer program. They would love to become professional players in Europe, but also like the change from academic work to physical work, as that is a good balance at high school.
They said it was a good challenge to play with and against the boys as it forced them to become faster, tougher and better, both physically and mentally. They sometimes get a bit nervous, as it is hard to be outnumbered, but it is a challenge they revel in, and clearly with success.
Poor Macy has broken her lower arm/wrist three times now, and that is far from ideal for a goalkeeper, but it does not deter her and she is soldiering on.
Daisy, whose family moved from Albany to Fremantle to make it possible for her to join the football program, comes from a soccer family, with an uncle having played in the A-League. As a 16-year-old she just spent six weeks in Italy, Switzerland and England trying out with different professional soccer clubs there.
These are very exciting times for soccer in Australia and everyone should take advantage of it and jump on the band wagon, to make our female soccer the best in the world.
by ROEL LOOPERS