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Inaugural Women's Football Summit: Ushering a New Era

The inaugural Women’s Football Summit, a significant milestone for the future of women's football in Australia, was hosted by Football Australia in collaboration with the Women’s Football Council, demonstrating their leadership and commitment to enhancing the ongoing progress of women’s football. The summit, held before the thrilling CommBank Matildas victory against China PR, was not just a celebration but a call to action, uniting over 130 key stakeholders from across the football community.

The gathering was a vibrant testament to the power of unity. Administrators, players, coaches, and referees, each representing diverse roles and values, united with a shared vision. Cheryl Downes, Chair of Women Onside, captured the essence of the event perfectly: "The room was alive with the finest minds in our country's football scene, each one inspired to forge a visionary path for women’s football. Now, we eagerly anticipate the steps and momentum that will propel the future of women’s football forward.”

The summit was enriched by the insights of esteemed guest speakers, including Samantha Gash, Sarah Styles, and Kate Jenkins, the newly appointed Chair of the Australian Sports Commission. Their contributions, along with the interactive workshops, focused on transforming the vision for women’s football into actionable strategies, covering key areas such as commercial investment, community football, facilities, media visibility, and government relations.

James Johnson, CEO of Football Australia, emphasised the importance of unity among diverse stakeholders to sustain and build on the growth of women’s football. "The top football nations worldwide consider themselves an ecosystem," Johnson noted. "If the different parts of the game are working collaboratively, they can feed off each other." This sentiment was echoed by A-Leagues Commissioner Nick Garcia, who highlighted the need for long-term strategies and government support to elevate the A-League Women’s competition.

The discussions were underpinned by the successes of the Legacy ‘23 strategy, a pivotal factor in the remarkable increase in female participation. This strategy, combined with the inspiring impact of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023™, saw a 23% rise in female player registrations in 2024, the highest number of women and girls playing football in Australia to date.

Heather Reid, Director of Women Onside, highlighted the importance for all stakeholders to be informed of FA research and priorities, fostering great dialogue, networking, and sharing information. "The proof of the Summit's success will be in the action plan and strategy for women's football from here. It is crucial to do more at the grassroots and local community level," Reid noted.

The Summit's culmination was a panel discussion, during which leaders underscored the significance of collaborative efforts. Erin Clout, a Professional Football Association and Women’s Football Council member emphasised the Summit's importance in translating words into action.

Dr Deidre Anderson, the Chair of the Women’s Football Council, played a pivotal role in the summit. Reflecting on the event, Anderson affirmed that the Council would utilise the Summit’s outcomes to steer the direction over the next three years, effectively leveraging the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2026™. This commitment underscores the Council's dedication to the future of women's football in Australia.

The inaugural Women’s Football Summit was not just an event but a beacon of hope, marking the dawn of a new era for women’s football in Australia. As we stride forward, the shared vision and collaborative spirit ignited at the Summit will undoubtedly propel the sport to new heights, making women’s football an unstoppable force for societal transformation. The future is not just bright; it's radiant, and the journey has only just begun.


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