As Football West’s Female Football Week draws to a close, the world celebrates International Women’s Day and challenges everyone to break the bias.

North Beach Soccer Club is a home for all levels of female football, from early development through to senior women’s teams.

This year, the North Beach women reflect on their footballing journey and describe the challenges they faced, and the progress made in Australian Football so far.

Women’s player Sigrid Hillier shares her story:

When I was in second grade, my local soccer club came around and handed out pamphlets to all the boys in my class, but only the boys. Having loitered and lingered my way into school ground soccer games I wanted to join the club too. So after I relayed this injustice to my family at home I boldly visited the school office the next day and asked for a pamphlet.

A short time later, decked out in my mostly out-sized kit, I took to the pitch with the boys in the grade above me and grit in my heart.

According to my mum, the other parents would say things like “mind the little girl” and gasp when I was flattened by a much bigger player.

But I’d jump straight up and enthusiastically, yet somewhat ungainly, rejoin the game. And while my incoordination persisted, I learned to hold my own and grew into a solid defender.

In my time with that club, I was in the first girl’s team. I represented regional and state teams, even captaining the Brisbane North Regional U13’s squad one year and joined the women’s squad at the age of 14. I referred to the club as my second home and I was the longest-running female player; just one year short of being the first female life member before I moved interstate. It was truly a great experience.

I just wonder who of my fellow female classmates missed out on such an idyllic childhood because they didn’t get given a flyer.

Luckily we’ve come a long way and it’s well understood that girls rock at soccer. Now I’m a proud North Beach women’s squad player, where I believe we have one of the biggest girls programs in all of Football West.

Women’s Division One team coach Renee Atkinson shares her story:

The celebration of IWD is the celebration of the growth and inclusion of women’s football amongst the football community. There was no junior league in South Brisbane when I began playing football at the age of 12, so I started my career with the Beenleigh Senior Women’s team.

Within a few years, the growth of football amongst girls meant I could compete in the Brisbane regional and state competitions. I was a part of the first girl’s football team raised in my high school when I reached Grade 11. We were fortunate enough to have volunteer teacher coaches organise unofficial fixtures as there wasn’t an inner-city school league for girls to compete in.

Fast forward a few years and I am currently coaching the Divison One womens squad in a club that encourages equality, inclusion and positive culture.

I am proud to be part of a club that passionately supports junior girls at all levels from SAP and provides a peer-based pathway for the players through to the senior level.