If we go back a few years to 2019, how would you describe Kissing Point FC and the female side of the club?
In 2019, we had 195 women and girls playing football, out of about 800 players overall, so 24% participation rate. There were a few girls only miniroos teams (with many girls playing mixed Miniroos), and sporadic age groups through juniors given some age groups were low in numbers. It was hard to provide both development opportunities and opportunities for social football, basically due to lack of numbers.
However, we had a passionate team and a great club atmosphere, so the foundations for building the female side of the club were in place. Players and families were very engaged and committed, and their enthusiasm was a real catalyst for our growth.
By 2022 we have grown to 359 women and girls with to 34% participation rate (exceeding the NSFAs target, and growth of 85%), and aim to grow that much further over the next few years. Indeed, we note FFAs lofty 50% target by 2027, which we heartily strive for.
What were the key steps/strategies implemented that had a positive impact?
First of all we start with a policy equal representation and opportunities for females and male players. This starts with equal representation on the committee, access to facilities/equipment, and aiming to lift the number of female coaches and managers, and most importantly lifting the proportion of players in the club that are female to be able to provide the same opportunities. Building numbers from the base, in our youngest cohorts, is key to that longer term ambition. Second, we are looking to build the amount of support for girls and women. In 2021 we appointed both a Girls VP and a Womens VP (this was previously a combined role). We plan to increase this further to have a girls Miniroos coordinator as demand is requiring!
Our focus is on building a culture that engages female players. Our vision of “Positive football. For everyone.” means providing development opportunities for all skill levels, both development-focussed and community players. Our emphasis on player retention means we do all we can to create a supportive, fun, positive experience, for both players and parents. For example, we make the most of any fun, team-bonding opportunities such as the Proctor Cup in Bathurst, NSFA Summer Soccer and any pre-season tournaments.
In 2020, Diamond League was introduced as part of a new joint venture with Turramurra United. The joint venture opens up more options for Junior Girls, which is so important. There is now a pipeline of talented girls from Diamond league into Women’s All Age.
The supported coaching model for our female teams has proven effective. We have made sure to support any girls or women interested in coaching, along with ensuring our womens teams are provided highly trained volunteer coaches (through providing C-license training costs).
We have our two female VPs on the Female Football Working Group which is a great opportunity for KPFC to collaborate with other clubs. This collaboration can help build and support teams – as well as drive innovation for KPFC in the female space
Senior women’s teams grew from four teams in 2019 to six in 2022. We have a strong focus on fostering relationships with individual players. There are informal ways for women to try football, and we use Summer Soccer as a pathway into Winter Football. These strategies take an investment of time, but it is well worth it, as it’s important for women to build trusted relationships.
Kissing Point FC has embraced the G6/G7 Sunday Program. What are the benefits of the program and how have you achieved the player growth rates?
The G6/G7 program is a fantastic introduction to football for girls who may not enjoy mixed football; particularly as it enables easier friend integration than having one or two other girls on a mixed U6/7 team. While it started small (with only 5 or so people enrolled back in 2020) it has grown exponentially, with many more people taking it up, and less people taking up mixed football. The G6/7 program has allowed us to attract younger players and families looking for a girls-only option. This will feed through our program over many years. We have already seen the impact of this with a large cohort of G8s in 2022. It’s a team effort and a lot of hands-on work (eg Sunday G6/7 volunteers and the XlR8 support), but the results are there. Girls Miniroos has shown the strongest growth in the club due in strong part to this initiative by NSFA, and this really feeds into our longer term ambitions of having multiple teams through all junior age groups, and providing options for players.
Communication (newsletters and social media) have an impact when creating a good club culture how have KPFC utilised these and how do you ensure equality?
Our Womens and Girls VPs email their cohorts regularly. Both put in a lot of effort to ensure those emails talk about the bigger picture of female football at the club. This ensures our female players can see a path forward with the club into the future.
We use social media to promote uplifting and inclusive stories and images, with a 50/50 female/male split on posts. Our last fifty social media posts included 11 with a female focus, 11 with a male focus and 28 mixed or neutral. We also use a female image wherever possible. For example, for a post about “Coach education” or “Junior Players wanted” we’ll use an image of a female coach or player. Choice of language is important too, so we will often say for example, “if your daughter or son is interested”, putting the female first.
Images of female players are always included on posters, website, banners and clubwide emails.
Female Football Coordinators have been working hard to create a legacy from Women’s World Cup, what does the future look like for Kissing Point FC?
The future looks bright!
We have ambitious plans to continue growing the female game. This means growth from the base in terms of participation, but also providing greater support (creating and promoting a safe and supportive club), and further adopting a ‘What’s best for Her’ approach.