22 May 2024

The Matildas continue to inspire the next generation: Arise the Tigers FC under-14 girls team in the Capital Football Junior League

| Tim Gavel
Join the conversation
Michelle Heyman, Nicki Flannery, Sasha Grove and Emma Illjoski with Tigers FC under-14 girls team members

Michelle Heyman, Nicki Flannery, Sasha Grove and Emma Illjoski with Tigers FC under 14 girls team members. Photo: Supplied.

If there was any doubt about the impact of the Matildas on inspiring young women to take up soccer, the uplift in numbers playing in Canberra this season should be evidence enough.

A case study is the formation of the Tigers FC’s first-ever under-14 girls team, competing for the first time in the Capital Football Junior League Girls Division 1.

Historically, the Tigers have only fielded teams for men and boys.

Matildas players chat with Tigers FC under-14 girls

Matildas players chat with Tigers FC under-14 girls. Photo: Supplied.

Tigers Football Club manager Maddie Sinclair said that changed with the Matildas’ success.

“Although Tigers FC has had men’s NPL teams for a while now, the club has only had Junior League teams since last year. For the 2023 season, we had under-12s and under-13 boys development squad teams, so to have a girls’ Junior League team up and running in only the club’s second year of Junior League is an exciting achievement,” Maddie said.

“The thrill of Australia and New Zealand hosting a home World Cup and the Matildas doing so well inspired us to start our first girls’ team. We really wanted to take the momentum created by the Matildas and run with it!”

READ ALSO From Tidbinbilla to High Flying Eagles: the meaning behind the Raiders’ Indigenous jersey

If that wasn’t inspiration enough for the Tigers FC under-14 girls, there was more to come closer to home.

After training with the Tigers FC men’s first-grade team, four Canberra United players turned up to watch the under-14 girls workout.

Michelle Heyman, Nicki Flannery, Sasha Grove and Emma Illjoski joined in as the girls went through their paces.

Michelle Heyman with Tigers FC players

Michelle Heyman with Tigers FC players. Photo: Supplied.

“It was so inspiring for the girls to see their skills and work ethic in action, and to talk to them about the possibilities that could lie ahead if they train hard and put their minds to it,” said Maddie.

The under-14 girls’ side is just the start for Tigers FC.

READ ALSO Bon appetit! Experience the hospitality of Brittany with La Creperie this winter

Said Maddie: “They’ve come together from a range of different football clubs, so the fact that they’ve not met before but are now such good friends is really fantastic. At the end of pre-season, the girls won their age group division in the Wanderers Cup, so that was really exciting. We just want the girls to try their hardest, learn new technical skills, keep their fitness levels up, and most of all, have fun!

“So many of our parents have told me that if they hadn’t found Tigers FC this year, their daughters would have given up football.

“We’re hoping to grow the number of both girls and boys teams each year, although current field availability may well restrict our club’s growth. Next year, we’d like at least three girls age-group teams, and we would love for the Tigers FC to take part in the NPL girls competition at some point in the future too, just like our boys and men do,” said Maddie.

Matildas players mixing it with Tigers FC under 14 girls players. Photo: Supplied.

Matildas’ players mixing it with Tigers FC under-14 girls players. Photo: Supplied.

The club, it would appear, has already made the first crucial step – establishing a team from the ground up is no easy feat.

And given the supportive environment, it is hard to envisage this club as anything but a success.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.