Board of directors
As a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee Women Onside has a board of directors elected by the membership and complemented by additional directors appointed by the board.
Seven of our directors are elected and one has been appointed. They represent a strongly diverse array of football contributors, all united in their commitment to women's football and women in football.
Maria Berry - Chair
Cheryl Downes - Deputy Chair
Heather Reid AM
Dr Lee McGowan
Kerry Harris is Company Secretary
Read more about them below.
Maria Berry - Chair
Maria Berry is a long-time participant in football as a player, coach, administrator and fan since beginning as a player in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne in 1979. In her professional role, Maria has worked at a wide range of organisations in the government sector and as a management consultant for a leading international firm. Maria has also worked professionally in sports administration in football, gymnastics and Ultimate (frisbee) as well as holding a diversity of volunteer roles.
She has been the Chair of Football Victoria’s Women’s Standing Committee and was previously a Director of the former Victorian Soccer Federation, Victorian Women’s Soccer Association and Women’s Soccer Australia. Maria was Team Manager and Head of Delegation for several Matildas and Young Matildas overseas tours and had the highlight experience of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games as the liaison manager for the gold medal winning Norway women’s football team.
Maria has coached women and girls football teams for over 20 years at several community clubs and is a Life Member at Melbourne University Soccer Club.
Her work in football was recognised by the Victorian government in 2020 when she was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women as a Change Agent.
Cheryl Downes - Deputy Chair
Cheryl Downes is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Beyond90.com.au, a digital news platform which chronicles and promotes insightful, inclusive and respectful conversation about women’s football.
Previously, Cheryl was the Editor-in-Chief of The Women’s Game (TWG), where she managed a volunteer team of more than 30 contributors from around the world. Cheryl led TWG to being named as a finalist for the Sport Australia Media Awards.
Since leaving The Women’s Game to set up Beyond 90, Cheryl has continued to set standards in women’s football media coverage. Under Cheryl’s leadership, Beyond 90 has emerged as the leading source for women’s football news in Australia, with the added bonus of nurturing young writing talent.
Professionally Cheryl is enmeshed in the world of IT, working as the Head of Quality (APAC) for a company that provides client services nationally and internationally, especially in the government sector.
Asma Mirzae’s love of football started upon her arrival to Australia. Her introduction to the game occurred through a community-led football program, aimed at reducing social barriers for newly arrived refugees and migrants.
Ever since, Asma has strongly believed in the power of football as a key driver for social change. Through her own lived experiences, Asma has co-designed and led numerous projects that use football as a tool to build and mobilise communities as well as challenge issues of gender inequality.
Asma is an active member of the community, seeking opportunities to increase women's participation in sport including football.
Professionally, Asma continues her social impact work through providing policy advice to government on prevalent issues affecting our community.
Bruce Djite brings a wealth of understanding of the Australian football landscape. Until recently Bruce was the Football Director for A-League outfit Adelaide United FC, with responsibility for the football operations of the men’s, women’s and youth teams at the club.
Bruce enjoyed an outstanding career as a professional footballer in Australia and overseas, including representing Australia as a Socceroo. Bruce is an Adelaide United FC legend, winning all domestic trophies with the club, including the Premiership and Championship double in 2016. He is also the club’s record goal-scorer.
Off the field, Bruce is now the Chief Executive Officer of the Committee for Adelaide, a leading not-for-profit organisation that works across corporate, education, not-for-profit, community and government sectors to help shape the future of greater Adelaide and South Australia, and to promote growth and prosperity for Adelaide and South Australia. Earlier in his career Bruce worked at accounting firm PKF and at Fox Sports. He was actively involved on the Executive and Governance committee of Professional Footballers Australia (the PFA).
Bruce continues to be involved in various charities and organisations supporting a range of communities. He is currently on the board of the Australia Day Council of SA and a member of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission.
Fatima Flores brings a lively disposition and a passion for football to the Women Onside Board of Directors. Originally a player and also a coach in various Brisbane football clubs and rep teams, Fatima has also forged a leading role in active fan support for both Brisbane Roar through the Roar Corps and for the Matildas where she is one of the members and game day leader of the Matildas Active Support Group that toured France in 2019 for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Professionally Fatima has worked in the Queensland education system as a high school physical education and health teacher, is currently studying for an MBA in Sport Management and has launched a player agency business – Level Playing Field Sports Agency – focusing on elite women athletes and coaches in the various football codes and Olympic sports.
Heather Reid AM
Heather is a pioneer, mentor, author and internationally recognised leader in the world game. She started her involvement in football as a player and volunteer in 1978 and held various positions at club, state and national level through to 2004 when she was employed as CEO of ACT Football Federation (now Capital Football). As the CEO for 12 years she also managed Canberra United FC for nine W-League seasons, oversaw the growth of the Kanga Cup international football tournament.
She was a member of the Local Organising Committee for the 2015 men’s Asian Cup, a FIFA mentor and instructor on the FIFA women’s leadership program and a director of Football Australia. Heather also worked as a management and event consultant, mainly with WomenSport Australia and the Australian Sports Commission, as well as a lecturer in sport management at the University of Canberra.
In 2017 Heather received an Honorary Doctorate from the University for her distinguished service to sport administration and football and her advocacy for gender equity. Heather is a Life Member of Capital Football, is an inductee in Football Australia’s Hall of Fame and has a plaque on the ACT Honour Walk. Heather was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015 for her service to football.
Kieran Pender is a lawyer, writer and academic.
He is a long-time contributor to The Guardian and has covered events including the Olympics, the Men's and Women's World Cup and the Tour de France. He won Sport Australia's Sports Media Award for 'Best Coverage of a Community Sport Issue' in 2020 and was a finalist in the Walkey Mid-Year Awards in 2021.
Kieran is also a senior lawyer with the Human Rights Law Centre, an honorary lecturer at the Australian National University College of Law and a consultant at Bradley Allen Love Lawyers. His expertise includes free speech, whistleblower protection, secrecy and employment law. Kieran is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and formerly led the work of the International Bar Association to address inappropriate behaviour within legal workplaces.
Kieran was formerly a director of the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA), the global body for non-FIFA football. More recently he has co-founded an international football charity, Football Rising, working to support girls' and women's football in marginalised communities across the globe.
Kieran was appointed as director in July 2021.
Dr Lee McGowan
Dr Lee McGowan researches football. He co-authored the go-to book on women’s football in Australia “Never Say Die: the Hundred-Year Overnight Success of Australian Women’s Football”. Lee is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Prior to that he spent 12 years teaching and researching at Queensland University of Technology. He recently published the book Football Fiction: A History (2020) based on research he started during his PhD.
Lee loves football and follows the Matildas, Brisbane Roar and Glasgow Celtic. His daughters’ love of football led him to establish the living history project “With The Ball At Her Feet”, which has been funded by Football Queensland, QUT and Brisbane City Council. The project chronicles the history of women’s football in Queensland from the 1920s till now and tells the stories of women who have made the game what it is today.
Kerry Harris is a CPA Fellow and a highly experienced sports administrator as well as former football player. She has held professional roles in football, AFL and gymnastics as well as working for the 2007 World Swimming Championships and the Australian Sports Commission. She runs her own consulting business with clients in sport and the not-for-profit sector.
Kerry has also held a range of governance roles in football, including s a recent membership of Football Federation Australia’s Finance, Audit and Risk Standing Committee and prior roles as a Director and Treasurer of the former Women’s Soccer Australia. Kerry has had over thirty five years in women’s football across three states from grassroots to international level, including tour leader roles for the Matildas and at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games as the liaison manager with the USA team (who were beaten for the gold medal by Maria’s Norway team.). Additionally she is a Volunteering Australia Board Director and CPA Australia Victorian Divisional Councillor