Kicking goals for female soccer

The Northern Suburbs Football Association was losing a lot of female players every year. Find out how they are now keeping them on side.

Female soccer was facing a challenge across northern Sydney. Every year more than 1000 new players would sign up but the same number would also walk away from the game.

Northern Suburbs Football Association (NSFA) decided to put a plan in place to stop the drop-off in participation.

“We were losing the same number of female players as we were gaining each year,” head of female football Eilidh Mackay said.

“Through the female football working group we collectively decided that retention was our focus. We have increased retention from 64 per cent to 69 per cent.”

A key part of the successful strategy is their annual Female Football Week, which is happening this week across the region.

It kicked off on Sunday with a day for the little ones to try out the game at Montview Oval in Horsnby Heights and Bales Park in Willoughby. On Tuesday the Girls Skill Acquisition Program held joint training sessions with the Northern Tigers.

This Thursday morning at 9.30am the NSFA has organised the Come and Try Day at North Turramurra Recreation Area. There will be skills training for women’s players of any age or experience alongside a Tiger Cubs program for players aged 3 to 5.

In the afternoon a workshop for coaches of the female game is taking place at Turramurra and it will focus on how to create a safe, enjoyable and organised environment for players.

Female Football Friday, also at Turramurra, is building up to be the biggest event of the week. There is a free XLR8 skills session open to all girls from the under 6 to under 14 age categories. It promises to be a fun event with competitions, shooting challenges and prizes. Women’s National Premier League players are also invited to a Northern Tigers coaching session hosted by Mackay.

“For us it’s a good opportunity to showcase all the things happening on the ground and in the clubs,” Ms Mackay said.

“It’s a fantastic inclusive sport which gives an opportunity to be challenged and learn communication, leadership, team work and resilience.

“When they have something they can improve on and have like-minded friends, it impacts other areas of their lives positively.”

A total of 17 clubs across northern Sydney are involved in the NSFA and they represents 4100 female players. They include Asquith Soccer Club, Greenwich Sports Club, Northbridge FC, Turramurra United and West Pymble FC.

The players range in age from just three-and-a-half years old to women playing in the over 35s teams.

A quarter of all the players in the NSFA are female and the association is aiming to build this to 32 per cent by the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, which is being jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

Female Football Week is supported by Harvey Norman. More details at nsfa.asn.au.

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