Perth was today named as one of the host cities for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.
Penelope Tanner-Hoath, host of the World Football Programme Radio Show and founder of womensoccer.com, says soccer is getting more popular because more opportunities are being offered to women in sport.
“One thing that has happened in the last couple of years is the government has concentrated on female participation and that means upgrading change rooms and facilities, which gives more opportunities for girls to play football,” she says.
Instead of going down to a ground, and having a unisex kind of arrangement, where boys might use the same space as girls in a change room, they can have their own space to make them feel more comfortable.
“Also Perth is a very multicultural and diverse society, we have a lot of people come here from around the world and they love football,” Ms Tanner-Hoath says.
Curtin University Football Club president Hayden Ballantyne thinks soccer is gaining in participation this year due to the climate of COVID-19 and restrictions in travel.
He says even though participation is increasing, recruiting top level players is still difficult .
“I think that the top quality players are always hard to recruit and clubs are competing for them,’’ he says.
“In terms of the volume of numbers in this year we’ve had to add an extra women’s team because we had too many people come, but that was for our participation level.
“This year we’re going to run five women’s teams and yeah it was very much the participation level that expanded.”
Penelope Tanner-Hoath says soccer has a lot of competition with the rise of AFLW, but media coverage has helped.
“We see that more than girls and women’s in the last 12 months. It might have changed since the ABC picked it up, but sports traditionally have a higher public profile in media, and have a lot of money injected into them. We will definitely see a better profile than soccer or world game football has had in the past,” she says.
Ms Tanner-Hoath says the national body of soccer needs to invest more on a community and national level.
“From their point of view outwards, they need to show the whole of Australia that it is a sport that girls and women can be playing,” she says.