They’re homeless Koalas in search of a place to play in the hope of becoming a Matilda one day.
If that rhyming couplet seems a bit weird then read on and soon it will all become clear
The North West Sydney Koalas is a proud all female football club which has already produced eight international players including Ellyse Perry, Chloe Logarzo and Jo Burgess but without a home the Koalas very existence is threatened.
“The Koalas create a pathway from grassroots to Matildas but to achieve that we need the facilities” NWS Koalas Technical Director Sandra Awondatu said.
Until last year the Koalas called George Kendall Riverside Park, Ermington home, just outside the boundary of their Gladesville-Hornsby Association, but they were kicked out by Parramatta Council which needed to make room for a growing number of football clubs in its area.
Told to find a place in the Ryde Council district, the Koalas have become nomads as they roam from ground to ground, none of which is suitable for the needs of girls and young women.
The poorly lit Meadowbank Park is one venue the Koalas have used as a training ground. It is not only unsafe but according to 14 year old Victoria Martin, “At Meadowbank we were playing a trial game and it was hard because there was only one half of the field with lights so we didn’t get the proper benefit.”
Former Matilda Leigh Wardell is the Koalas under 13 team coach who knows the importance of mentors for the girls; “From a stability perspective we need a permanent place where the Premier League team through to Under 13s can train and play in the same place’, she said.
There is a development proposal for a ‘Home of Football” to be established at Christie Park, Macquarie Park which the Koalas would share with three other clubs but in the meantime there are 3,000 registered female players in North Western Sydney who just want to play football in a safe, secure environment.
As Victoria Martin says, “We have lots of role models at the Koalas who are Matildas and we can see that it’s doable, I’d love to be a Matilda.”
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