We Are Football Too
The Australian Football Awards. Football’s “Night of Nights” where we come together to celebrate the achievements of the football family from grassroots to the national teams. There were junior football clubs, senior recreational teams, referees, administrators, A-League marquee stars, Socceroos….but no Matildas.
Not the captain Melissa Barbieri (who found out about the event on Twitter), not the recently retired Sarah Walsh (a long time servant of football and FFA employee) and not even last year’s Female Footballer of the Year Elise Kellond-Knight.
Once it was realised, the proverbial hit the fan on social media. PFA President Simon Colosimo said “Disappointed to hear invitations weren’t extended to the Matildas for the AFA 2012 last night. Thought it would have been a priority/courtesy”.
That’s it in a nutshell Simon.
The reason for the omission has so far been stated that an outside events agency complied the invitation list and it appears to have been communicated that the Matildas are away at the moment attempting to qualify for the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup.
Granted a large majority of the Matildas playing group are currently in China but there is a good spread of players in country due to injury, pregnancy or recent retirement. Players that have represented Australia in the last 12 months; Barbieri, Walsh, Kellond-Knight, Garriock, Slatyer, Perry, Carroll, Brogan, Williams, just to name a few.
Even if it was an outside agency compiling the list, a quick scan of should have shown that “hang on, there are no Matildas representatives here”.
In this case the many members of football family at large has judged that the reasons irrelevant. At best it was an oversight, at worst a dismissal. Intentional or not, the message their snub has sent out clearly is that the Matildas are an afterthought.
That women’s football doesn’t matter. Just check out this collation of reactions from a vast spectrum of the community.
It was also raised that that the Avalon FC U16 women’s side represented women’s football with aplomb last night and they did. The work of the team in Vanuatu is inspirational.
As has the work of Barbieri, Walsh and Matildas past to make the team what it is on and off the field. To improve conditions, to push and argue for player welfare and rights. Walsh in particular is a recent retiree who has given so much and sacrificed plenty (including her knees!) for the game deserved better. They all deserved better.
I also bet that the Avalon girls would have loved to have mingled with their heroes.
David Galliop spoke eloquently and passionately about the game last night. He spoke about the uniqueness of football and including the fact that we have a strong women’s game unlike the other football codes. But what last night demonstrates is that you can give all the Obama like speeches but if it is not backed up by action, then all it becomes irrelevant.
I am the first to acknowledge and highlight with the FFA get things right in terms of women’s football but on this occassion they got it wrong. Badly.
All that’s left is an acknowledgement of this fact and an apology. It’s the least that can happen.