Outside the arena of Queensland community football clubs, there remains a vast number of professionals working behind the scenes, showcasing their passion for football through their own means.
For his work with women’s football, Senior Creative Writing lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, Dr. Lee McGowan, has been announced as the Queensland Community Male Champion of the Year.
Dr. McGowan joins fellow Queenslanders in Caitlin Troy, Gemma Layfield and Danielle Brady as a Queensland award recipient as part of Football Federation Australia (FFA)’s rebel Female Football Awards, for his work in recognising the significance of the women’s game through research into its rich history and advocating for increased female participation across all levels of the community.
Dr. McGowan’s research has led to founding and championing a digital project showcasing Brisbane’s rich history of women’s football, entitled ‘with the ball at HER feet’.
Awarded the Lord Mayor’s Helen Taylor Award for his digital project, ‘with the ball at HER feet’ seeks to bring together old, established and new stories, artefacts and memorabilia of the Brisbane football community, formulating a treasure trove of history showcasing the heritage of football to not only the rest of the State, but nationally.
“When people can see how long women have been playing football for, particularly in Brisbane, they really start to take note,” Dr. McGowan said.
It was uncovered by Dr. McGowan that the first women’s representative football match was played in Brisbane, at the Gabba on September 24, 1921 with some 10,000 people in attendance.
“We know the first games were played in Brisbane in 1921. We know, too, that women were discouraged from playing, following the ban on women playing in 1921 in England and France,” said Dr. McGowan.
The passion that Dr. McGowan has for the game of football is undeniable as he lays a platform for the next generation of women to follow in not only the footsteps of the Westfield Matildas, but those who fought decades ago, to play the game we now know today.
“Football is the nation’s most popular game. More women and girls play football than netball in Australia,” Dr. McGowan said.
“There’s also our extraordinary national team, The Matildas, who are more successful than the Socceroos,” said Dr. McGowan.
“I think we should celebrate the women who made it possible, the pioneers and the champions and those who gave so much of themselves and their time for the game they love.
“Those trailblazers played under the most difficult circumstances. It is their shoulders the Brisbane Roar W-League team stands on.”
Football Queensland congratulates Lee McGowan on his achievements and continued research into women’s football throughout Australia.
Words: Jacob Cocciolone