Women’s Football Summit unites football in shared vision

Before the 76,798 fans filled Accor Stadium for the CommBank Matildas’ electrifying 2-0 victory against China PR in their second game of the ‘Til it’s Done Farewell Series’, Football Australia, in collaboration with the Women’s Football Council, hosted the inaugural Women’s Football Summit.

The Summit welcomed over 130 attendees representing Football Australia, Member Federations, Australian Professional Leagues and Clubs, Professional Footballers Australia, Matildas Alumni, Football Coaches Australia and Women Onside. Participants united to discuss and promote a shared vision for the future of women’s football in Australia.

Collaboration was emphasised throughout the Summit, focusing on aligning and advancing priorities around commercial investment, community football, facilities, media and visibility, and government relations.

Attendees engaged in workshops and heard insights from guest speakers including Samantha Gash, Sarah Styles, and Kate Jenkins, the newly appointed Australian Sports Commission Chair. The sessions were dedicated to deliberating strategies to transform the vision of women’s football in Australia into actionable steps.

A panel discussion with key leaders highlighted the significance of collaborative efforts among stakeholders to sustain and build on this growth.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson expressed the importance of having diverse stakeholders working together in the same room, to share ideas and strategies to continue this growth of the women’s game.

“The top football nations around the world, they consider themselves as an ecosystem,” Johnson said. “There are different parts of the game, but if they are working properly and collaboratively, they can feed off each other.”

Reflecting on the Legacy ’23 strategy, Johnson noted the successful increase in participation was a result of intentional strategic planning with Member Federations, creating a flywheel business model driven by national team brands and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™.

Football NSW Chair Gilbert Lorquet supported this saying that, “the demand for football in NSW has never been greater, we have seen 2024 female player registrations increase by 23% in comparison to last year”, resulting nationally in seeing the highest-ever number of women and girls playing football in Australia.

A-Leagues Commissioner Nick Garcia posed the question of how we can elevate the A-League Women’s competition and maintain that growth trajectory. The tournament further resulted in a 132% increase in attendance for the Liberty A-League Women’s 2023/24 season, making the league the highest-attended Women’s League in Australia.

“We desperately want to get to 12-month player contracts, that’s important for the league and to have full professionalisation. It’s important that we double down and think long-term as well, how can we lean on government funding, whether that’s through supporting the game, pathways or whether it’s through infrastructure to create the best quality standards.”

Professional Football Association and Women’s Football Council member, Erin Clout, spoke about the importance of having something like the Women’s Football Summit to help collaboratively put words into action.

Reflecting on the Summit, Chair of the Women’s Football Council, Dr Deidre Anderson, noted that “this was a key step forward in unifying to drive the future of women’s football, building on the momentum of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, and setting the stage for continued growth and success”.

Anderson noted that the Women’s Football Council will utilise the outputs of the Summit to drive the direction over the next three years, working collectively as a game to effectively leverage the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2026™. The vision for women’s football, being an unstoppable force in women’s sport that drives societal transformation.

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