Over the last 50 years the gap between the number of men and women playing sports has steadily decreased, but what happens now when we want it to go at a rate quicker than before?

Sports organisations across Victoria are bringing in new initiatives to help create an inviting and engaging environment for young women. This will give young girls across the state the opportunity to make their goals and hopes of having 50-50 female-male representation in sports all the more achievable and realistic.

Women around the world have made it their goal to help change the stigma around females in sport and make the sporting community a better place for their successors.

READ MORE: Football Victoria aims for 50:50 gender balance goal by 2027

The prominence and push of women in sport in the media recently has helped to put the pressure on clubs and organisations to make their communities safer spaces for young women to grow up in.

The phrase ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ is often brought up in conversations regarding women’s football, putting the responsibility on the bigger state-wide organisations to have more women in leadership roles and create careers and pathways for young girls.

Parents from Greek community football club Yarraville Glory FC (YGFC) said “the constant push in the media and from the clubs for women’s sport is having a great effect with more visitors watching the women’s games at local clubs”.

Football organisations such as FIFA are partnering with social media platforms to create more awareness of women’s sports. Social media is often the most common source of media for younger generations and so having easy access to women’s sport information can play a huge role in increasing engagement.

The constant media awareness for women’s sport in the current age is helping those who otherwise thought they did not play a role in creating a more inclusive environment, to create a better sporting community.

In May 2019, as a part of their women in football report, Football Victoria, (FV) stated only roughly 55 percent of soccer clubs in Victoria offered girls teams.

READ MORE: Girls Can’t Surf shows how determined women battled sexism in their sport

Since its establishment in 1966, YGFC have been expanding the female representation within the board, committee and club volunteers, to create a space where girls can feel comfortable raising concerns and making suggestions.

YGFC has three girls teams in 2021; the under 13’s, under 17’s, and a senior state league team. For YGFC, this is the first senior women’s squad in over two years.

Many parents of young girls at the club have said “having a women’s squad helps give the younger girls something to aim for, and a reason to keep playing. It helps them strive to become the best of the best”.

The amount of girls playing at YGFC is rapidly growing, with over 50 girls playing in the upcoming season.

YGFC‘s junior players share some insight on their experiences playing football.

READ MORE: Q&A with returning Heidelberg United striker Stephanie Pantazopoulos

Elizabeth, 12

Photo: Supplied

I’ve been playing since I was nine years old. I like to play midfield or right wing. I think soccer is a great sport and it’s really fun to play.

I think having girls in soccer is really good and we should encourage more girls to do it. I think what makes girls soccer so good is having a good support system from Football Victoria and our clubs.

I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older and gone through the age groups some girls have dropped out when it gets to the higher groups so I think we should make the higher groups as fun as the younger groups.

Alexandra, 13

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I’ve been playing for five years, since I was nine. I play left back but I like all positions. I think soccer is a good opportunity to get fit and learn new skills.

I think girls in soccer is a good opportunity to make more friends while doing exercise. I think having soccer sessions at school helps encourage girls to play soccer.

In the younger age groups there weren’t a lot of people watching our games but now that I’m in the under 17’s there’s a lot of people watching the game.

Ethelia, 12

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I play centre mid and I’ve been playing since I was five years old. I think soccer is a great way to stay fit while socialising.

I think girls soccer is so successful because there is a supportive nature around it and everyone just gives it a go. Things I’ve noticed over the years is that we’re getting more and more girls in soccer and sport which is a good thing.