Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) prepared for female numbers to take the region by storm in 2021 as part of its biggest season yet.
But, registrations have exceeded the organisation’s expectations, with the greatest percentage of players to play the code across northern NSW than ever before.
NNSWF’s three Hunter-based member zones – Newcastle Football, Macquarie Football and Hunter Valley Football – as well as regional Northern Inland Football, Football Mid-North Coast, North Coast Football and Football Far North Coast are ready and raring to go this year following the challenges provided by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
A significant part of that excitement is around female football given NNSWF’s impressive recent growth in the women’s game.
NNSWF has seen a 26% increase in participation over the past five years.
Football Far North Coast (30% of total players female), Football Mid-North Coast (29%), North Coast Football and Newcastle Football (27%) have surpassed those numbers, while Northern Inland Football (26%) have also shown impressive growth.
Macquarie Football (23%) and Hunter Valley Football (22%) are trending in the right direction, too.
Macquarie Football’s percentage of female players has grown 2% since 2019, while Hunter Valley Football’s boasts a 4% rise.
A large part of this success is driven by MiniRoos – a modified version of football for kids aged from 4 to 11 that runs nationally.
Registrations are now open across northern NSW until 9 April at www.playfootball.com.au
With the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup less than two-and-a-half years away and northern NSW’s potentially important role as a host area, NNSWF head of football development Peter Haynes said it was an exciting time for the code.
“The growth of the women’s and girls’ game is a strategic priority for Northern NSW Football which aligns with Football Australia’s XI principles,” he explained.
“This includes increasing opportunities for talented youngsters through talent development programs but also focusing on females at a community level by introducing them to the sport and retaining them as an important part of the football family.
“We’re excited by our own recent growth locally in terms of the female game and with the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup looming on the horizon, it gives us that motivation to really push to build the legacy that comes from hosting such a prestigious international event.
“Especially in terms of participation and appropriate football infrastructure.”
There are plenty of opportunities for women and girls to play football in 2021 with players encouraged to visit www.playfootball.com.au to find their local club.
It has been a busy time for female football with the NSW Government announcing last month a $750,000 investment to fund a talent identification and youth development program for young players from regional areas.
It divulged $50 million from its Regional Growth Fund to improve women’s sports facilities, too.
Matildas star Ellie Carpenter was also unveiled as a Regional NSW Ambassador and lead mentor for young female footballers.
NNSWF conducts a number of programs to offer alternate participation opportunities for females including MiniRoos for girls and Kick-On for women.