When a friend told me she would have to pay $495 plus processing if she wanted to play with her team this season in Capital Football’s Women’s State League 3, I was astounded.
The fact that amateur football players are forced to pay nearly half a grand to play in a state league competition is extraordinary.
The considerable registration fee will stop her from signing up this season, which is a shame. It made me wonder how many other Canberrans baulk at the sizeable fee and what people are actually paying for when they fork out that kind of money.
The registration fee is broken down into three parts: club fee, Capital Football fee and Football Federation Australia (FFA) fee. Capital Football’s fee to register to play in state league and masters competitions is $192.75 on top of the FFA fee of $33.00.
Capital Football’s registration fee contributes to the administration of the game, which includes digital services, administration and inclusion programs along with referee programs that do not generate revenue of their own.
The clubs fee varies between each clubs. O’Connor Knights charge $270, Tuggeranong United $294, Lanyon United $224, Belnorth $184, Belsouth $164 and Woden Valley $179. The registration fee covers ground hire for match day and training, lights to train at night, referee fees, uniforms and equipment.
When I spoke to Lanyon United vice-president Grant McFadden this week, he said his club members had accepted the rising cost to play football in the ACT.
“We are a seniors-only club and we are a not a performance club so our costs are relatively low in comparison to others,” he shared. “Part of it comes down to how much fundraising and sponsorship each club can acquire.
“We do a lot of fundraising events throughout the year which helps with costs. We discuss this with our members, that if we want to keep our fees as low as possible we need our members to volunteer to raise the money for the club.
“So instead of paying out of their pocket, our members are paying with their time.”
Capital Football chief Phil Brown said the growing costs to play football is an issue for all clubs in the ACT. But despite how expensive it is becoming to play football, Brown said fees is not the main reason people are choosing to play other sports.
“All leisure activities cost money to deliver, and football is no exception. Field hire, uniforms, equipment and coaches all have a financial impact on clubs that cannot be covered by canteen revenue and sponsors alone,” Brown said.
“All of our clubs are not for profit, volunteer organisations who invest a great amount of their time in providing opportunities for young boys and girls to have fun playing football.
“National surveys indicate the main motivators for people leaving football are the quality of coaches and availability of referees,” Brown told Region Media.
“Capital Football’s focus is to help volunteer clubs in delivering an experience that is fun for the player and parent, supported by coaches and referees who have access to education that provides them knowledge and confidence.”
Regardless of which club amateur footballers choose to play for, it will still cost them at least $400 to play. For state league divisions that rarely have a referee to officiate and play on fields filled with potholes, I can only see the ridiculous registration fee turning more people away from the sport they love.