Park Ridge FC want to recapture their mojo in women’s football as they position themselves to field dedicated women’s teams once again.
The Panthers head into the 2021 season with a vision to relaunch an under 16s girls’ team and an open women’s team to rebuild the strong development pathway they had 20 years ago.
Park Ridge FC president Mick Griffin says they want to expand their opportunities for women and girls at the club.
“We are currently trying to rebuild and get the women going again, for a while there not as many were playing in the mixed teams, we’ve still got quite a few girls in the club but they are in mixed teams,” he says.
At one stage, the club had female teams in the opens, and in the under 16s, 14s, and 12s categories.
Mr Griffin was there at the beginning when they launched the women’s and girls’ teams.
“At one stage, it was very strong at our club, and as women’s football grew, a lot of the young girls started chasing the higher levels at more prestigious clubs,” he says.
The platform Park Ridge FC previously set led a number of players onto some notable opportunities at representative levels.
“We had a couple who even went through to trial for the Matildas,” says Mr Griffin.
“Alisha Foote was knocking on the door, and when they started the W-League, she played for Melbourne and another team [Brisbane Roar].”
Emily Dunn played all her junior years at Park Ridge FC in the early 2000s and is now knocking on the door of the National Premier Leagues with Brisbane City.
“My first year of female football there was when I was 13, and they had a pretty good culture so we wanted to keep building that and start making strong women’s teams and programs,” says Ms Dunn.
“I really enjoyed my time there and it was a really good environment, the coaches had the passion for the women’s program.”
She says creating opportunities for young girls helps make them feel valued and more ambitious.
“There’s just so many more opportunities for young girls to play now, and I think they feel a bit more comfortable in having the same kind of work ethic and dedication as the men, and being a bit more appreciated for it,” she says.