Football Far North Coast leads the way in female participation

These local girls and boys are keen for the start of the junior Football Far North Coast season. Photo Steve Mackney.
These local girls and boys are keen for the start of the junior Football Far North Coast season. Photo Steve Mackney.

JUNIOR soccer players will return to the field on the first weekend in May.

Thousands of girls and boys are eagre to get back out there after a modified season was played in 2020.

Female participation in the game locally continues to grow exponentially and female specific competitions will exist in 2021.

It will include females of every age from five years to senior women.

Football Far North Coast general manager Steve Mackney said that he is exceptionally pleased that the sport is evolving every year, in a manner that is more inclusive for females.

"Football Far North Coast has celebrated the fact that female participation in this region is about 28 percent of a total player base of more than 7000 annually," he said.

"This percentage is beyond the 24 percent national average and sees many thousands of females playing across our 24 clubs."

The football boss goes on to proclaim that team nominations for this season include 47 senior teams across five leagues, 29 junior female competition teams and 46 girls only miniroos teams.

"These numbers are the best we have ever seen and gives more impetus to progressing the game as a terrific activity regardless of gender," Mackney said.

With the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup less than two and a half years away and northern NSW's potentially important role as a host area, Northern NSW Football Head of Football Development Peter Haynes said it was an exciting time for the women's game.

"The growth of the women and girls game is a strategic priority for Northern NSW Football, which aligns with Football Australia's XI Principles," Haynes said.

"This includes increasing opportunities for talented girls through talent development programs but also focusing on females at a community level by introducing them to football and retaining them as an important part of the football family.

"We're excited by our own recent growth locally in terms of the female game and with the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup looming on the horizon in gives us that motivation to really push to build the legacy that comes from hosting such a prestigious international event.

"Especially in terms of participation and appropriate football infrastructure."

It has been a busy time for women's soccer with the NSW government announcing last month a $750,000 investment to fund a talent identification and youth development program for young female players from regional areas.

The state government also announced $50 million from its Regional Growth Fund to improve women's sports facilities.

Matildas star, Ellie Carpenter, was also unveiled as a Regional NSW Ambassador and lead mentor for young female footballers.

MiniRoos for Girls and Kick-On for Women will also run this season.