It was great to hear Emma Highwood who is the new head of Community Football at the Football Federation of Australia state that a great deal of focus will be given to the women’s game. She echoed the sentiments of many when she stood up from the floor and said that she believed the Matildas had more chance of winning a World Cup than their male counterparts. She also stated that she felt they had more chance of hosting a World Cup finals than the men’s game. No one would disagree and it compounds the bafflement many had that Australia opted to bid for the male version ahead of the women’s World Cup Finals.
Ms Highwood is new to the role and let us hope that her voice is not only heard but that she is given the wherewithal to make the Womens game receive the attention and accolades it deserves. It has from within and outside of the FFA received little more than lip service to date.
Next to none of the powers that be at the FFA attended the Women’s World Cup finals in Germany in 2011. John Boultbee the head of High Performance paid his own way from the UK where he was attending an event, and director and ex Matilda Moya Dodd also paid her own way to support the team. The media coverage of the girls achievements were negligible.
Having raised the funds to make the documentary “No Apologies” tracing the story of two Aboriginal girls to the World Cup Finals, Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon this writer asked the FFA to endorse the project. We did not ask for any financial support, just their endorsement for the project. The FFA’s response was there was ‘no benefit’ in such a film. Several members of the FFA staff were invited to the Sydney Premiere of “No Apologies” and replied saying they would attend. Then failed to show. Only one apologised.
Since the film has been completed we have offered the documentary free of charge to be used to by state bodies in their Indigenous programs. The offer has not been taken up, despite the film receiving recognition from the Aboriginal community and overseas.
Hopefully this was the FFA approach of the past. We have many new staff on board at head office since then. The FFA have a new CEO in David Gallop who has already shown he has a great deal more about him in terms of communication skills than his predecessor. One feels that Ms Highwood is genuine in her intentions. Let us hope she is able to fulfil and deliver her vision for the women’s game. It would be great for Australia and all the women playing and watching the game if she can.