When former Capital Football boss Heather Reid threw her hat into the ring to be a part of the Football Federation Australia (FFA) board overhaul last month, she knew the magnitude of the task at hand.
She was eager to help set the future direction of the “world game” on Australian shores and provide a better platform for grassroots level participation in the game.
Ms Reid, a veteran administrator and tireless advocate for women’s football, had received strong backing to take a position on the new-look board but even she was surprised at the level of support she received to be a part of the changing face of the Federation. That support translated into votes on Monday afternoon (19 November) when she received an overwhelming 90.78 per cent majority at the AGM, cementing her role as deputy chair under newly elected chairman Chris Nikou.
Highly regarded as an influential figure in Australian football, Ms Reid said she was “emotional” and “overwhelmed” by the level of support she received and believes she still has a lot to offer the sport.
“After a fairly torrid few weeks, I had hoped I would have around 70 to 80 per cent of the votes so it was gobsmacking to receive nearly 91 per cent,” she told Region Media.
“I am aware there is a fair weight on my shoulders in terms of expectations of what I might be able to do to improve the experience of grassroots participants. Also being a women’s football advocate, I have had countless messages from so many people, with hundreds of text messages and tweets from women in sport that see this as a pretty big watershed moment.”
A trailblazer for more than 40 years, Ms Reid was the first woman to be appointed as the head of a state football federation when she became Capital Football chief and also led the charge for Canberra’s bid to join the W-League when the competition started a decade ago.
With changes to the constitution that will see more women involved in the democratic process through the Congress with the women’s council, along with all stakeholders required to bring a male and female representative to the meetings, Reid said there are significant improvements that will change the look and shape of decision-making in the FFA.
While she has many immediate priorities at hand including the A-league expansion, a new operating model for the league and the potential second division for men across the country, she is also focused on improving the quality and opportunity for women in football.
“I think it is definitely time to have a full home-and-away season for the W-league,” she said. “It’s not a level playing field until there is an opportunity for all teams to play each other twice so that is important for me.
“I think we also have to address the structure and rollout of WNPL competitions across the country. The gap between premier league competition and the W-league is just getting wider each year and we need to address that and lift the quality.”
But at the end of the day, she just wants to continue her work inspiring the next generation of female sports administrators and to be a pioneer in the game.
“For me, I want to inspire women to do what I am doing and not to be afraid of jumping into being a leader or a director and to contribute to the sport as best as they can,” she said.