Changing the Game

You’d be forgiven for thinking things looked bleak for women’s football in Brisbane and elsewhere.

Coming into the 2000 Olympics the Matildas were barely being paid, were forced to use second hand equipment the Socceroos were done with and they couldn’t get publicity, despite qualifying for two world cups. If the Matildas couldn’t get attention, or paid, imagine what it was like for the local game. To raise money, they published a Nude Calendar. It’s still one of Australia’s fastest selling Calendar’s ever. It sold 40,000 copies. They made $4000 each. Still a lot more than they’d earned from the FFA in the previous year.


The ABC started asking the same questions, and among the bad publicity the Government stepped in and in 2003 the Crawford Report was handed down.

The Crawford Report

The Crawford Report or Independent Soccer Review Committee, published in 2003, changed the face of football. It was instigated because:

  1. the Socceroos failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup;
  2. they couldn’t afford to bring players to international friendlies;
  3. the ABC investigation into the greedy self-serving men running Soccer Australia; and
  4. the extensive negative publicity.

The reforms saw the National and State Football Associations restructure the governance of the game to a more democratic approach and the enfranchisement of groups not previously represented (e.g. referees, women’s players, etc.).

A new governing body, the Football Federation of Australia, was established. Frank Lowy’s Board helped the organisation gain financial stability, sponsorship to match northern hemisphere counterparts, and more professional domestic competitions – the A-League in 2004 and the W-League in 2007.

The Matildas

They are very close to England who sit behind Germany and the World No.1 Team, the USA. The ranking follows victory at the Tournament of Nations in August 2017 where Australia beat the USA (1-0) on home soil and Japan and Brazil (6-1). The Matildas followed the tournament with a series of wins here in Australia, over Brazil and China.

The squad includes a number of Brisbane and Queensland players, including Clare Polkinghorne (co-captain), Hayley Raso and Katrina Gorry from Brisbane and fellow Queenslanders, Mackenzie Arnold (Gold Coast) and Elise Kellond-Knight (Southport).

The Matildas have only been called the Matildas since 1995. Before that they were the Female Socceroos (we think it was a rubbish name too).

Our current Brisbane Roar and Matilda Stars:
    DEFENDER: Named in the 2000-2013 team of the decade

    MIDFIELDER: named in the
    W-League team of the year

    MIDFIELDER: named in the
    W-League team of the year

The Junior Matildas

Bringing through new players and making sure they fit well in the squad is a crucial part of the team’s continuing success and development. In 2007 the U17 Matildas were set up to ensure Australia continues to develop our local talent at the highest level.

Their Head Coach is none other than our very own, the super-talented Raeanne Dower. She played all her football in Brisbane, including representing our City and State. She is now an exceptional top-tier coach with awards and even a couple of W-League titles on her shelf.

  • Raeanne Dower
The W-League

The first W-League’s season kicked off, 25 October 2008. The W-League was instigated in the wake of coinciding events:

  1. The Matildas Quarter Final place at the 2007 Women’s World Cup;
  2. the Crawford Report;
  3. the establishment of the A-League (2004); and
  4. the influential Matildas coach, Tom Sermanni, noting publicly how much the Australian national team would benefit from top tier professionalised competition.

Each W-League squad is required to have a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 26 players. The W-League’s short season runs across the off-season of several well-established leagues elsewhere, including the USA. As a result, W-League teams can benefit from foreign players coming here.

The competition consisted of eight teams: Adelaide United, Canberra United, Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Victory, Newcastle Jets, Perth Glory, Queensland Roar Sydney FC. Only Canberra United were not affiliated with a Men’s club.

Brisbane Roar

The team began life as Queensland Roar. In their first season (2008/09) they did ‘the double’ – becoming the first W-League Premiers and then beating Canberra United (2-0) in the 2009 W-League Grand Final.

At the start of the 2009 season, Brisbane’s premier women’s side changed their name to Brisbane Roar. Two more Queensland sides, Gold Coast United and North Queensland Fury (both now folded), joined the A-League.

Ballymore Stadium was the Roar’s first home ground, but they played games at Perry Park, Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre, A.J. Kelly Park, Stockland Park and Cleveland Showgrounds.

They were champions (08/09) and twice grand final runners up (2009, 2011/2012). They won premiers (08/09) and premier runners up (10/11 and 11/12). Jeff Hopkins, who played in England and represented Wales, was the first coach.

Belinda Wilson took over Brisbane Roar in 2012 as Australia’s third top tier female coach. She followed a Grand Final win in her first season (2012/13) and Runners up in her second. While Brisbane’s first female coach’s tenure did not ring with the success Roar fans had come to expect Belinda Wilson oversaw a period of transition within the squad.

The current squad includes 6 Matildas and some experienced imports (from the US, Hong Kong, New South Wales, the ACT, and Victoria), but it is dominated by local talent. We reckon it’s the reason they’re so good. It’s also because Mel is such an excellent coach.


Melissa Andreatta became Brisbane Roar’s coach in 2016. She’s also Assistant Coach of the Matildas. Even better still she’s a local. She began her playing career at Taringa Rovers, which quickly led to rep football for the City and State. Turning coach, she started at the Gap Football Club. She also coaches at Queensland’s National Training Centre (NTC), is heavily involved in State Team programs and, when she has time, teaches football at Cavendish Road football school of excellence.

  • Melissa Andreatta
Football Queensland

Football Queensland (FQ) is the governing body for association football (soccer) across Queensland. As a member of the Football Federation of Australia, they are affiliated with FIFA. They now oversee football in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Wide Bay, Mackay, and South West, North, North West, South and Far Nth Qld, but they began life as the Anglo-Queensland Football Association in Brisbane, in 1884. They’ve toiled under a range of names, including the Qld British Football Association (1890-1919), the (far-sighted) Queensland Football Association (1920-1927) and the Soccer Council.

Since 2005, they’ve been responsible for the game across the State, which includes semi-professionals, amateurs, youth team players, juniors, referees and, of course, women’s football. With so much responsibility it’s little wonder they’ve been around for so long.

The PS4 National Premier Leagues

The results of FFA’s National Competition Review were published in 2012. A re-brand of state-based competitions saw the National Premier Leagues structure pull the premier league in each state under a single banner. The intention is to promote and relegate teams between the W-League and the National Premier League by 2022.

Teams in each State-based competiton play a full season with no inter-conference matches (an identical format to the individual State Leagues that preceded the NPL). At the completion of the regular home and away season, the winners of each respective Federation league compete in a finals playoff tournament.

Football Brisbane

In 2007, all of the Brisbane soccer bodies (Brisbane Men’s Football, Brisbane Women’s Soccer, Brisbane North & Districts Junior Soccer Association, Brisbane Southern Districts Junior Soccer Association and Soccer Australia Referees (Brisbane)) amalgamated to form Football Brisbane.

Peter Eedy, Brisbane football’s foremost historian, has researched and written a detailed and engaging history of football in Brisbane. It’s fascinating. It is mostly about the men though.

Among it’s close to 30,000 members spread across 76 clubs and the 2290 teams, football brisbane has 5010 female players registered. In recent years, they’ve successfully engaged a commercial sponsor, a first for women’s football in the city, and increased their commitment of resources to promoting the women’s game. The local game has come a long way. In 1976, SQWSA registered 1070 players across a much larger geographical area.

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