Women of all ages are becoming more and more active in Sydney’s east, and the Eastern Suburbs Football Association is doing it’s fair share to contribute to that growth.
In the last two years alone, the ESFA has seen an incredible growth of 27 per cent in it’s female MiniRoos program, which caters for girls up 11-years-old.
With so much talent coming into the grassroots system at such a young age, the future is bright for women’s football in the region.
In fact, the ESFA’s increased focus on increasing female participation has already paid major dividends, with one local star on the books with W-League outfit Western Sydney Wanderers.
ESFA Competitions Co-ordinator Caroline Oakes-Ash said the success of Bisset was a great story for local girls hoping to achieve similar success.
Bisset was a star of the Dunbar Rover’s AA Women’s Championship – the top tier of local women’s football – and her success allowed her the opportunity to trial with the Wanderers.
“Jennifer played with Dunbar Rovers FC AAW Championship in season 2017 after a break from representative football since 2014,” Oakes-Ash said.
“Before that, she had played an off season in Finland in 2013. Her reinvigorated love for football and the standard of our AAW Championship competition, allowed her to trial for WSW.”
The success of a local hero, combined with the continued rise of the Matildas – Australia’s senior national women’s team – has laid the platform for a real boom in local women’s football.
Even at a senior level, the game is growing for girls with a 15 per cent growth in senior female players since 2015.
“We have seen a lot of growth in women’s football due to Matildas success,” Oakes-Ash said.
“Parents see the game as a safer, non-contact sport, and the fact that it’s a close-knit team sport ensures there is a lot of camaraderie makes it a great choice.
We’re also seeing women choosing to play team sports into later ages, while the MiniRoos offers a fantastic opportunity for younger players to get involved.”
With 16 teams competing in the Women’s League, Oakes-Ash said there was no shortage of clubs willing to give female players of all abilities a go.
The Association is also dedicated to recognising some of it’s female pioneers, none moreso than Louise Mazzaroli, who tragically passed away after a battle with cancer in 2011.
The local stalwart was a life member of both the ESFA and the ESFA Referees Branch and as a sign of respect for her, the Association has named it’s over-30s cup in her honour.
The Louise Mazzaroli cup is the hallmark of the Female Football Week.
And it’s not just the female football that’s booming.
In 2017, the Association boasted an incredible 6,969 registered male players.
That contributed to a total registration of 9,047 – the highest in the Association’s history.
Players interested in taking up the sport, or even returning to it, in 2018 should head to the ESFA’s website, where a full list of clubs and competitions can be found.
Simply head to www.esfa.com.au to learn more.
-By Matt Galea