Joondalup United’s hopes of establishing a number of women’s teams in the coming years hangs in the balance due to a lack of adequate facilities.
Having established itself as a National Premier League (NPL) team in men’s football, and with the Amateur, Masters and Junior setups thriving, Perth-based JUFC has turned its attention to providing opportunities for more young women to play the game.
However, none of the club’s existing grounds provide suitable facilities to run men’s and women’s games concurrently.
Next Tuesday, a proposal to upgrade one of the club’s home grounds – Prince Regent Park – will be voted on by the City of Joondalup Councillors, and this new community facility would include four changing rooms and showers.
Currently, Prince Regent Park has neither of these and many Junior players are forced to change at the side of the pitch during winter when it’s cold and wet.
With a coach and squad already in place, JUFC has committed to fielding a 13s team in the Smarter than Smoking Junior Girls competition in 2018, another exciting milestone for the club.
“After talking about it for a couple of seasons, it’s great to get our first young women’s team up and running,” says JUFC President Stephen Martin.
“Lack of space and facilities have hampered previous attempts, but with no real solutions on the horizon we have no option but to go for it and hope for the best.”
The profile of women’s football has increased massively in recent years, thanks in large part to the great work done by Perth Glory who are regular title challengers in the Westfield W-League.
According to Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) strategic plan for the game, released in 2014, around one in five football players in this country is female.
In 2015, soccer overtook netball in terms of its popularity among girls aged 6 to 13, and the success of Australia’s national side, the Matildas, has brought the sport more positive attention from the media, supporters and the game’s other stakeholders.
Western Australia’s Sam Kerr is arguably the best player in the world right now, becoming a role model for the next generation, and Martin is excited at the possibility of producing future women’s internationals at JUFC.
“This is the last piece of the puzzle,” he says.
“We currently have men’s team for all ages from 5 to 75, but Junior and Senior women’s teams will truly make us a club for all.
“Many of our members have partners or daughters who are eager to pull on the club colours, and we would love to be able to cater for them too.”
JUFC is hopeful that the City of Joondalup will approve the upgrades at Prince Regent Park so more girls and women can be given the opportunity to play for the club.