What will women’s football look like in 2028?
That is the question Football Federation Australia (FFA) is asking stakeholders in the football community and the beyond as part of their collaboration on a new 10-year plan for the women’s game.
The long-term plan will harness the unprecedented growth and interest in women’s football, starting with the Westfield Matildas and extending through the Westfield W-League to more than 200,000 women and girls playing football in the community.
It builds on the Women’s Football Strategy implemented from 2014 and will create new opportunities for clubs, member federations, governments, commercial partners, community organisations and the media to partner with women’s football for the benefit of all.
The plan will be aligned with FFA’s bid to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 so that the bid process itself, regardless of the outcome, leaves a legacy for the sport.
It will also address critical issues at community level such as coaching, facilities, career pathways, commercial growth and the achievement of a 50-50 gender split in overall participation. At the professional level the plan will chart a course to close the gender pay gap, build a fully professional Westfield W-League and maintain the Westfield Matildas’ position at the top end of world football.
One of the first consultations will occur on Friday 23 March in Melbourne where FFA in partnership with Professional Footballers Australia will convene a forum of more than 150 diverse stakeholders from across the government, corporate, media and sports sectors to discuss the women’s professional game.
Participants include FFA’s Head of Community, Player Development and Women’s Football, Emma Highwood and General Manager of Women’s Football, Sarah Walsh; Dr Bridie O’Donnell, Head of the Victorian Office for Women in Sport and Recreation; Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner; Kate Palmer, CEO of the Australian Sports Commission; Francis Leach, Broadcast Journalist, Justin Burney, Director of Sport and Recreation Victoria; and Jerril Rechter, CEO of VicHealth; James Fazzino, Male Champion of Change and Chair of Manufacturing Australia.
“Women’s football in Australia is growing every day – and so are the expectations around what it will deliver in the future,” said FFA chief executive David Gallop. “The women’s game is attracting record crowds, new audiences, new commercial sponsors and new partnerships with government.”
FFA’s Head of Community, Player Development and Women’s Football, Emma Highwood said: “On the field we offer a pathway for girls from the suburban pitch to the FIFA Women’s World Cup. We hope to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 and with the Westfield Matildas ranked 4th in the world, we are a genuine chance to win one next year in France.
“This long term plan will be a road map to where we want women’s football in Australia to go over the next 10 years. Creating it with the community will give it the best chance of success.”