A statement from the Darebin Falcons.
As the Matildas wow the country with their bravery, skill, athleticism and technical strategy, our Club is enjoying women and girls sport being at the centre of discussion across all communities.
Since the 1990s, the Darebin Falcons have been at the forefront of women, girls and gender diverse people having access to facilities and governance that welcome everyone to the wellbeing benefits of playing sport.
“We have experienced first-hand what can happen when sport for girls and women is actively nurtured and encourage. In the past decade we have grown from just 1 women’s team to this season fielding 30 junior girls and senior women’s teams with over 500 players,” says Jasmine Hirst, Darebin Falcon’s Head of Soccer
“The significance of seeing role models like the Matildas to be able to attract young girls to play football is not lost on us. They inspire us all and particularly our ability to build pathways from the ground up, like our girls-only Miniroos program where we have over 80 young players involved (see here).”
What isn’t always spoken about or obvious to the untrained eye, is our work behind the scenes in making sure that local role models are there too.
“The Darebin Falcons have one of the few women-only boards in Victorian football codes, making decisions about how girls and women will take their best foot forward playing traditionally male-dominated sports. We have also grown our own coaching stocks, referee programs and encourage female leadership at every level to ensure player-centric approaches are taken and we increase the number of girls, women and gender diverse people in all parts of the game.”
Research backs up the benefits of girls and women being active in sport and confirms that gender equality starts at the clubhouse:
- sport and physical activity can boost girls’ and women’s self-esteem, self-worth, confidence and mental health
- girls and women taking part in sport, especially traditionally masculine sports, challenge rigid gender norms and stereotypes
- more girls want to take part and will be retained in football when they have opportunities to take part with other girls their own age.
So while the Matildas take centre stage in everyone’s hearts and minds, we ask that some actions are taken to keep this party going.
We would like to see investment to ensure gender equity in all parts of the game – investment in coaches, refs, commentators, administrators. They are all areas that are still not equal and change is required.
And we ask that governments, councils and governing bodies walk the talk in providing facilities for girls and women playing sport. There is still not enough grounds, training times and clubrooms available to support players.
These are some of the biggest barriers to women’s sport and to gender equity more generally. If we do these things, we will have more exciting moments like this to savour together.
For more details and media interest contact Club President Jane Ryan 0407 330 824 for interview with Head of Soccer, Jasmine Hirst.
Club and bio details:
More than a sports club
The Darebin Women’s Sports Club fields more than thirty soccer teams, as well as Aussie rules, cricket and 8-ball, providing opportunities for over 750 women and girls to play sport in an inclusive, encouraging, supportive and safe environment. The club is a place where anyone can belong.
They are a standalone women’s club with teams throughout the pathway – from juniors to elite, with a proudly women-only board. See here for the history of the club.
Who we are
Jasmine Hirst Vice President, Head of Soccer (see our Board page here)
I’ve been a member of the Falcons since 2006 when I first joined the senior soccer team. I came to the game of soccer in my Melbourne University days and wished I had discovered it much earlier. After travelling and playing in London and Canberra, I returned to Melbourne and found a spiritual home with the Falcons.
I joined the Club Committee (as it was known then) in 2010 and then began the Junior Soccer program here in 2011 in collaboration with some of my senior teammates with the idea of providing an opportunity for our own girls to play. Since then have watched it grow to the 29 team, 480-member program that it is today, thanks to the wonderful community of players, coaches and volunteers that share the vision of a club where girls and women are at the heart of everything we do, rather than an after-thought.
I have a Graduate Diploma in sports management and have worked at the UK Sports Institute and the Australian Sports Commission, as well as on the Commonwealth Games and in a marketing role for a sports equipment company.
With the junior soccer program now a full pathway from 4 year olds up to senior women, including Soccer Mums, I am looking forward to us consolidating our contribution to gender equality in off-field roles and with older junior and senior players taking up roles in our coaching and refereeing programs.