In a Female Football Week special, Football Queensland (FQ) caught up with Krystal Part, Estates Football Club’s Be23Ready Women and Girls Ambassador, to shine a spotlight on the significant work being done to create welcoming and inclusive environments for our female football community.
Football was always a part of Krystal Part’s life, however it was only after her fourth child that she dove into all elements of clubland, wearing different hats from coach, to volunteer, to player.
“From there I started learning the ins and outs of the club, from playing with the team to working on the cultural environment and the challenges they face,” Part said.
“I’ve always had a solid fierceness that the women received the same things men do at our club; when the President asked me to be the Be23Ready Ambassador, there was no real question as to whether I’d take it on or not, it’s been an interesting journey so far.”
As the Women and Girls Ambassador, it is Part’s role to implement inclusive measures to help her club; as such, Part saw a clear gap between the participation numbers of men and women which needed to be addressed if they wanted to create more opportunities.
“This year we were unable to feed an FQPL Women’s side which is really unfortunate, but what it has done is highlight the things that we do need to work on and there are some great opportunities to basically pull everything apart and start putting it all back together in a better way that facilitates our female players, that supports them and that gives them the best opportunities,” Part said.
“Earlier this season we also thought we wouldn’t get a youth team which is tough because this is the first year FQ has introduced a youth girls’ competition, it was a really key thing to have a team in there.”
Previously, Estates FC has collaborated with Emile Damey from Boots4Liberia, a not-for-profit organisation that offers migrant community members opportunities to be introduced to sports, educating and supporting them while they learn the team environment.
“Last season we had some of Emile’s girls come in and train with our girls, it was just a great learning and collaborative experience; there’s so much we’ve been able to learn together and this year with only half a squad we’ve been able to call in some of those girls to join,” Part said.
“That’s been our focus this season, to support and facilitate these girls so that they continue to enjoy the game.”
Part has been a key player in identifying the support measures required to build relationships with new female participants and help them feel safe and welcome within the football environment.
“At the moment I pick up and drop off the girls for our Friday night games and outside of that we’ve shifted our training days and location to be more local to where the girls live so they can walk to and from training safely and at a reasonable hour,” Part said.
These small accommodations are vital to create the numbers needed for the sides the clubs require to enter a wider variety of competitions next year, but this is not what Part will measure her success in at the end of her first year as a Women and Girls Ambassador.
“The success of the game is around if you’re at the top of each table, that’s the nature of this sport and I don’t like to measure it that way; for us I think the measure will be how much enjoyment the girls have had over the course of the season, whether or not they’ll want to come back and play again,” Part said.
“I want to measure success in whether we’ve supported them in the right way and as an ambassador that’s what I’m looking at, all our girls coming through, who’s getting what they need out of training as well as the emotional wellbeing side of it.
“There’s competition between clubs to recruit the most players, have the best teams, be the best in the competition, but when it comes to the girls, it really needs to be about them and their football.”
Image Credit: Sharon Woodward