Sawtell FC celebrates Female Football Week with record participation

Imogen Bilsborough is the club’s most experienced match official at Sawtell FC and plays for Sawtell Under 16s girls. Pictured here with assistant referee and team mate Zara Bruton in the background.

SAWTELL FC is gearing up for an exciting celebration of Female Football Week, running from May 3 to 12.

With a remarkable 198 female players registered for the 2024 season, comprising 40 percent of the club’s total registrations, Sawtell is proving itself as a powerhouse of female participation in football.

However, the surge of women’s involvement isn’t confined to the field alone; it extends across every facet of the club, from coaching to committee roles and refereeing.

Rachel Oberlueter exemplifies this inclusivity, coaching the Men’s Premier League and serving as the club’s coaching coordinator.

At the helm of Sawtell FC is President Kimberley Grech, supported by Hayley Carlisle as club secretary and Joanee Mckeon as Registrar.

Together, they form a formidable leadership team driving the club’s success both on and off the pitch.

Adding to the roster of influential women is Anna Champion, the club’s Female Participation Officer and a North Coast Football referee, whose dedication ensures that women and girls have opportunities to thrive within the sport.

With such a strong contingent of women leading the charge, Sawtell FC is not just celebrating Female Football Week, it’s setting a shining example on how to cultivate female talent in football.

“As Sawtell’s Female Participation Officer and as a match official it is pleasing to see the recent increase in female players reflected in the rise of female match officials,” Champion said.

“Sawtell FC are proud to lead the way this season with seven female referees, the most of any club in the zone.

“As female match officials become increasingly visible, the more likely others are to also see it as an opportunity to become more involved.”

Champion reflected on the benefits of being a referee and the importance it serves in cultivating a safe environment.

“Being a referee gives you a deeper understanding of the game that can enhance your development as a player or a coach.

“It can be challenging as you have to make many decisions in a short period of time and ensure you deal with all participants consistently and fairly, even when they may not return the favour.

“We all have a responsibility to cultivate a safe environment to ensure that football matches are an enjoyable experience for players, coaches, spectators and match officials alike.

“At Sawtell we are proud that we have so many young women prepared to embrace the challenge of becoming a referee and hope that they will inspire more girls to give it a go,” Champion said.


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