Perth Azzurri

Established in 1958
Club Rooms : Dorrien Gardens, Perth
Inaugural President :

In the 1950s and ‘60s, soccer flourished with the post-war influx of migrants and refugees from the United Kingdom as well as Italy, Greece, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Poland and other soccer-loving Southern and Eastern European countries.

Italian teams included the Azzurri (‘the blues’) based at Dorrien Gardens in Perth and affiliated with the WA Italian Club, and also the ‘Julia’ team based in Welshpool and affiliated with the Club Fiumano e Giuliano representing Italian migrants and refugees from North-Eastern Italy and the former Yugoslavia (now modern day Croatia).

For a short period from 1958 to 1963, Azzurri and Julia both fielded women’s soccer teams who played one another in a regular series of charity matches at Dorrien Gardens to raise funds for what was then called the Spastic Welfare Association of WA (now Ability WA).

Luciana Birighitti (nee Alfieri), was a teenager when she joined the Azzurri ‘ladies’ soccer team which was coached by her father (Potito Alfieri), a former Italian soccer player who also coached the men’s Azzurri team in the 1950s. Luciana recalls the novelty of the competition for spectators and the excitement of the matches for the players:

“We raised money. They went around collecting money while the game was on. The first time we played they had 3,000 people. It was absolutely chockers because an Italian singer (Claudio Villa) was supposed to make an appearance. He never showed up but we still made some money. We also went down to Bunbury once and played an exhibition match. It was mostly for fun more than anything… I loved soccer. I wish I was playing now. But it wasn’t a thing in those days. I can’t wait for this women’s world cup to start!”

Azzurri and Julia women’s soccer teams at Dorrien Gardens, 14 October 1960. Luciana Birighitti (nee Alfieri) is kneeling with flowers far left with her Azzurri teammates. (COV PHO6472)

While women’s soccer may have continued in the 1960s, there is no official record of further games until the early 1970s when the Azzurri women’s team played Graylands as the ‘curtain-raiser’ at Subiaco Oval before the WA state team took on the visiting Moscow Dynamos in a friendly match in February 1971.

Shortly after in May 1971, the first official women’s soccer game between Ascot and Olympic took place at the Lake Monger Velodrome (now Litis Stadium) in Leederville. The pitch at Litis Stadium was to become a focal point for the development of women’s soccer in Western Australia in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Black and white photos below Courtesy of Luciana Birighitti and the City Of Vincent July 2023.  Article courtesy of the City of Vincent Library, 2023.

In 1971, the Girls Soccer League was formed and in 1972, the first league competition took place. Perth Azzurri entered this first league competition as a founding club. Sharon Loveless (Mateljan) played for Perth Azzurri in her first year of soccer in Australia, after having migrated from the United Kingdom with her family.