The goal of learning the history of Australia’s first women’s soccer game

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(Supplied: State Library of Queensland) ABC Radio Brisbane

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Jessica Hinchliffe

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July 08, 2018 09:00:12

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The Latrobe Ladies’ Football Club, established in 1921, was Australia’s first female soccer club.
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The Brisbane City Ladies’ Football Club photographed in 1922. While many football fans are glued to the World Cup, a group in Brisbane is unearthing the origins of the first women’s game played in Australia.The new living history project With the ball at HER feet is learning more about the women who pioneered the sport Down Under. (Supplied: With the ball at Her feet)
He said the players wore long socks, long-sleeved football jerseys, baggy shorts and football shoes — not too different from what is worn now. (Supplied: State Library of Queensland)
“The FA, made up of about a dozen old white men, decided it was not a good idea for women to play football,” he said.”They blamed it on medical and aesthetic reasons as well as being worried about damaging their reproductive systems.”They could still play but not within official football grounds or in public view.”The FA also highlighted concerns over misappropriation of funds raised by the games, which the women chose to give away to charities.Media reports noted that the women were not allowed a right of reply.Callout for more football historyDr McGowan said the project began after he went to a W-League game with his two daughters.”Both my teenage daughters are fierce feminists and the eldest daughter wanted to know why women aren’t being paid to play football as much as men,” he said.”After a W-League game, I started getting into the history of women in the game and we started to unpack what was going on in Brisbane, the UK and France at the time.”

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Women played in England and France before the sport travelled to Australia. The group has also discovered Australia’s first female soccer club, which came together in the Brisbane suburb of Paddington.”The Latrobe Ladies formed in 1921 followed by two Toowoomba clubs forming in July 1921,” Dr McGowan told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Loretta Ryan.”After the first public match, more and more women wanted to play and overseas in the UK they were getting massive crowds.”More than 53,000 people went to a women’s soccer game in Liverpool.”The games were a celebration with bands, food and people wanting to watch the women play.”Capturing the changing face of women’s soccerDr Mc Gowan said the good times didn’t last.In the 1920s the English Football Association (FA) banned women from playing on official grounds which in turn forced other clubs throughout Australia to also stop the game. Over the past 12 months the group has drawn on the sporting community for media clippings, interviews and memorabilia to establish a narrative archive of the game’s history.Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher Dr Lee McGowan said it was important to learn more about Queensland’s crucial role in the world game.”We hosted the very first game here in Brisbane,” he said.”The first public women’s soccer game in Australia was played at the Gabba on September 24, 1921 before a crowd of 10,000 people.”The game between The Reds (North Brisbane) and The Blues (South Brisbane) saw The Reds win 2-0.”

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The first public match for women in Australia was held at the Gabba in 1921. (Supplied: With the ball at Her feet)
He hopes other football fans will add to the project with photos, stories and objects that may have been left by forebears.”We really want to fill in the gap over the war years and we’re trying to find more information about that,” Dr McGowan said.”We discovered that in 1959 more women began playing the sport again through the Brisbane Soccer Association, so we’ve been speaking to women who played at that time to try and capture that history.”If you have information that could help, contact the team via its website.