It is easy to label newly-elected Capital Football chair Fran Sankey as a women’s football advocate, but she is quick to correct that.
“Something I am really conscious about is that I am not tagged as just being a women’s football advocate,” Sankey shared. “I am an advocate for football, as a whole.”
Growing up near Newcastle, she first started playing football when she was 14 years old when “women’s football wasn’t a common thing”. She became a Canberra resident in the early 90s, playing football for Tuggeranong United before moving to Weston Creek on her way to becoming a life member of the club.
Having played in six World Masters Games, Sankey is still playing the sport she loves against women she admits “are young enough to be my daughters, but it keeps me young”.
“Football has always been a big part of my life,” she says with a smile. “I love to play, even though I was never a premier league player. It is great exercise and I love the social aspect.”
After chair Mark O’Neill stepped down from the role of chair at the annual general meeting earlier this month, the scene was set for a changing of the guard at Capital Football for the first time in six years.
After being on the board since 2013, former deputy chair and an inaugural member of the FFA Women’s Football Council, Fran Sankey was voted in as Capital Football’s second ever female chair.
“A couple of years ago, this was something that I would like to achieve but the timing wasn’t right,” she told Region Media. “I was very comfortable working with former chairman Mark O’Neill and we were getting good leadership so I was happy.
“But with the changing of the guard, I thought it might be my time.”
Sankey is adamant her key priority is to reconnect Canberra’s football community from the grassroots to the top level, believing a unified approach will reinvigorate the sport in the region.
“There is always room for improvement,” she said. “We can’t keep doing things because ‘we have always done it this way’. We need to reconnect with the community.
“Rather than assuming we know what everybody is thinking and doing, we need to engage with the football community a bit better than maybe we have in the past.
“We want to do what is best for football. It is not about individual clubs or individual people. We need to make decisions that will be in the interest of football for the whole region for now and into the future.
“We need to make decisions that are going to leave a legacy and leave us in a better position than what we have come from.
“We are commencing work on our new strategic plan which is exciting because that sets the scene for the next ten years. Where do we want to be ten years time? Let’s think big because if we don’t we might never reach those heights.”