The Banksia Tigers Football Club is taking a bold leap ahead by entering female teams in St George Association competitions for the first time.
The Tigers’ administration could see the need, and young females in the community have responded with 50 girls and women already registering to play in 2015 and more expected to sign up.
“Within our community we found that women aren’t getting too much involved in sports and we really wanted them to be encouraged, the same as the boys, to have a go,” Banksia Tigers FC secretary Nour Hijazi said.
The senior women’s team, which brings together Muslim women from other clubs, will play in the St George Premier League as well as mentoring girls in under 14s, 12s and 10s teams, the vast majority of whom have never played football before; “We’re seniors now and it’s our social responsibility to look after the little ones just because you have to be role models for them,” 20 year old midfielder Fatima Hammoud said.
Now Banksia Tigers FC is rolling out its female program there is an urgent need for facilities to meet demand at the club’s home ground of Gardiner Park. The current amenities block is so old it can’t be used as a change room and while Rockdale Council has plans to start work on a new amenities block in May, already delayed one year, it would not be ready until next season.
In the meantime the new female members will have to use the public toilets to change; “We have Muslim girls with the hijab and we need the privacy to get changed. We need to feel comfortable as well,” Ms Hammoud said.
Inadequate lighting at Gardiner Park has now become a safety issue; “It’s very dark here. That’s very worrying especially when you’re coaching juniors at night, you don’t want any kids to wander off into the dark,” Mr Hijazi said.
While Football NSW is working with all levels of government in an effort to improve facilities at Gardiner Park, the venue is also one of five fields in the Rockdale Council area being considered for major redevelopment including a synthetic pitch
Banksia Tigers Football Club’s initiative will bring cultural, social and health benefits to the community. Now the club requires the community’s support to get the infrastructure they need.
-By Mark Chester