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Bend it like South Canberra Football Club

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The South Canberra Football Club (SCFC) is a new football club started by women for women.

The founders of the club are Kat Yuile and Emma Steel (pictured above) and they are supported by an active and enthusiastic all-women committee of 18 members.

In 2019, Kat and Em began discussing the idea of a women’s only football club with other teams and clubs. There was obvious interest and enthusiasm for the idea but it was clear that a lot of work was involved with creating a football club from scratch.

Kat and Em threw their energies into forming a committee, registering as a sports club with ACT government and becoming affiliated with Capital Football.

In 2019, the Football Federation of Australia conducted a census which found that there was an increase of 11 per cent in the participation of women and girls in the sport on the year before. There are now over 1.95 million women and girls who play football in Australia—representing over 20 per cent of participants nationally.

So it was not surprising that the groundswell of support for an all-women team saw Kat and Em organise affiliation, insurance, training fields, kit design, strip orders, sponsorship, equipment, graphic designs, and pre-season injury prevention fitness specifically for women within just a few months.

And now there are five South Canberra FC teams that will kick-off in their inaugural year this April — division 1, division 2, division 3, division 4 and Masters.

Kat Yuile.

While they aren’t the first women’s club in Canberra, as the Australian National University has a men’s and women’s arm and they run quite separately, Kat and Em believe their club is the first that has been deliberately set up by women for women with really specific values and club culture.

“We are strong believers in supporting women to play all levels and providing a culturally safe and inclusive environment. Even our pre-season activities are designed to prevent football injuries that are common in women,” said Kat.

“The club was established because women’s football performances are often secondary to the performance of men’s football teams. To add, women football players want aspects of the sport that might seem basic, but are often not available such as female-cut strips, and female-specific fitness and injury prevention training. This is not provided by the majority of Canberra football clubs.”

The pair also noted that while women pay the same registration fees and are just as passionate about the beautiful game of football, women players are not given the same level of focus, attention or priority by clubs when there are men’s teams present.

The majority of football clubs in Canberra have the women’s and men’s teams linked under the same club banner. Often, the board and committee are predominantly run by men and there is a higher ratio of male to female players in these mixed-gender clubs. A common flow-on effect is that the committee’s focus is on the men, and certainly predominantly on the highest-ranked male team.

The focus on the men’s football teams further magnifies the public’s interest, sponsorship opportunities, funding and awareness and creates a cycle of more spotlight, funding, attention and focus on the men’s teams.

Kat and Em said they were so proud to have established South Canberra Football Club because it will operate as a State League women’s club only, it will be supported by an all-women committee and all of the club’s initiatives and efforts will focus on its women players without the need to compete or justify for more funding or be managed with higher priority.  Each and every player in every division will be afforded the same level of support and attention.

Whilst the club is devoted to its women players, Kat and Em are firm believers that supporters of the club’s values and initiatives are represented by a diverse range of people including men, “driving equality and balancing the equation in community football will need the help of everyone who is passionate about the same cause.”

If you watch a game you might notice their distinctive blue bee logo and honeycomb strip design. The design emphasises their mascot, the Blue Banded Bee, a native bee to mainland Australia which is hard-working, speedy, and goal driven.
There is also a pride flag on the sleeve.

“We see this as being the same as having a pride flag in the window of your favourite café – we’re a safe place for LGBTIQ+, and will welcome anyone into the club who share our core values: Community, Respect, Fun, Teamwork, Trust, and Inclusion. We can’t wait to wear this strip during the season and represent everything that it stands for,” said Em.

The women train at Griffith Neighbourhood Oval and Phillip District Ovals and anyone interested in joining the SCFC can email them at football@southcanberrafc.org.au

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