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How the 2023 Women’s World Cup will deliver lasting change on and off the field

Media Academy

Brisbane will play a key role in hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup, and Football Australia has committed to making soccer more accessible, investing in projects that promote gender equality.

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The governing body has defined five main pillars to deliver lasting impacts of such a major event: participation, community facilities, leadership & development, tourism, and high performance.

These key areas are aimed at promoting soccer across Australia and allowing more pathways for women to become involved in the game.

Taylor Trafford, a player for the Oxley United U14 girls’ soccer team, is confident the impact of the Women’s World Cup being held in Australia will create lasting change.

“With it being this close to Brisbane… I think it will inspire more people to actually get involved and start watching it… because it’s there and available,” she said.

University of Queensland Associate Professor Judith Mair specialises in understanding the positive impact of events on the societies that host them.

“There is a very important demonstration effect from staging women’s sporting events – young girls can see… people they can relate to being successful in sports. This will encourage girls and women to feel they can take part,” she said.

The previous Federal Government’s 2022 budget had invested $3.1 million towards programs associated with the Women’s World Cup, focusing on expansion of the Miniroos for Girls Program and the Girls 12+ Football Your Way Engagement Experience Program.

The then sport minister Richard Colbeck said the funding “will be critical to ensuring community level football around Australia is further strengthened particularly with more women and girls participating and engaged”.

Football Queensland have also committed to establishing a Home of Women’s Football in Queensland and Women’s Centre of Excellence as part of their Strategic Infrastructure Plan.

One of Football Australia’s goals to create a lasting legacy of the 2023 Women’s World Cup is to increase female representation in key roles including coaching, officiating and media positions.

Former Oxley United coach Andrew Trafford is positive about a growth in females represented in these roles.

“As soon as you get participation rates up, it has a flow-on effect. As girls’ football gets more popular with more paid roles… female commentators are becoming more involved,” he said.

This viewpoint is shared by Mair.

“As more young girls see soccer as an option for them, there will be increased recognition and acceptance of women in soccer. This will translate into more female coaches and referees, but it will take time,” she said.

Female representation is gradually being translated onto the pitch in both male and female competitions, with Casey Reibelt recently becoming the second woman to referee an A-League Men’s match.

“You can’t be what you can’t see and I think that for young female match officials, this shows that there is a pathway in the men’s game as well as the women’s game”, Reibelt said..

Seeking to gain momentum approaching the Federal Election and Women’s World Cup, Football Australia has recently launched the ‘We Need An #Equaliser’ movement to deliver female-friendly facilities.

Currently only 35 per cent of clubs have such infrastructure in place.

The construction of inclusive infrastructure will create a positive change, according to Taylor Trafford.

“You don’t need to worry as much about where you need to go… it will definitely help having a girls change room near the grounds,” Trafford said.

Katye Trafford shares her daughter’s attitude on the worrying statistics regarding female facilities.

“I think that’s absolutely got to change, otherwise it does send the message that girls aren’t welcome and it’s like a constant reminder that it’s not a place that was created with women in mind,” she said.

“Funding to put change rooms in and modify facilities is critical to create a welcoming environment.”

 

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