It’s a soccer family with a twist: a place for women over 35 who want to get out on the soccer field and score goals (both metaphorical and psychic).
For many of us, the only time we would have touched a soccer ball was during gym class.-vsSee flashbacks of teenagers not believing in deodorant and desperately running in the opposite direction every time the ball came near you– but onecross the changing country with the QuickKick initiative that brings women back into the field.
It only started last year when the AFL Masters Group secured a grant from Sports Australia, but QuickKick has already made its mark for Canberra Women with over a hundred entries.
For women over 35, it’s an opportunity to learn football skills that might not have been offered in your childhood and learn the difference between AFL, NRL and rugby (don’t tell me don’t look to tell you the difference, my knowledge stops at the shape of the ball). But for some Canberra women, it’s also a vital opportunity.
“As a trans woman who has faced so many barriers to participating in sport, I often talk to people and say that football and the opportunity to participate in football— at least for minority people—can sometimes be a life-saving experience,” says Andi McGee, ACT’s Women’s Development Manager. “There are so many benefits that can come from women forming a community around football,”
Sessions take place fortnightly at Ainslie and are free (but make sure you sign up here). And for those who might sweat from the thought of running laps and doing burpees, fret not! It’s not that kind of workout.
“QuickKick clinic sessions are skill building sessions, you don’t have to be in great shape to be part of it. They only leave for an hour and we split up into small groups, so there’s not a lot of running around and there’s no contact,” says Andi.
“It’s just about giving people an idea of what the game is like. For people who don’t feel like they’re fit enough, or aren’t fit at all, I encourage them really coming to try and they will probably end up surprising themselves.
“More than half of the ACT women who signed up are over 40 and to see these women exercise their athletic potential, their potential to learn skills and learn different things, this willingness to go ‘What can- I learn more?’— I think it’s great to see this example of a lifelong learning journey. I also see how strong, brave, skillful, smart and funny this cohort is. It is a very important part of our community that as women we can see and be part of the inclusion that is happening.
And don’t worry, you won’t be knocked down either.—Well at least not right away.
“One of the things that QuickKick does is create a hotspot that is about minimizing risk, because everyone is concerned about the idea of contact. So this QuickKick initiative is really about creating an opportunity for people to build their skills and gradually discover what some of that contact is like, to help break down some of the barriers they might have internally,” says Andi.
“It’s a really good opportunity for people individually to say ‘Hey, you know what, I think I can do this’ and then they do it. The sense of reward is really great.
“At the end of each of these sessions that we ran, I was absolutely buzzing because the women were so happy. We’ll do a goal-scoring exercise and when they get the goal, everyone is slapping each other in the hands and laughs and I get a whole bunch of emails afterwards from people saying how much fun they had, how safe they felt, how inclusive it was.
Safe, fun and inclusive are the key messages promoted by AFL Masters and Andi’s passion and drive bring that to life here in Canberra.
“I think it’s a matter of fairness. It’s about breaking down some of the misconceptions in the past that women really shouldn’t play football. There’s this real love, this real sense of camaraderie, and we get together at the end of the session and I stand there and just see all these smiling faces, going ‘How good is football?’
It’s not just adults who benefit from this program—it also helps create a journey of a lifetime for the girls, showing youngsters that women can be as active and skilled as anyone else playing in the AFL.
“I think it’s really important to have that example of courage, to not accept that you kind of have to become inactive as you get older. There’s this lifetime opportunity to be active, to continue to grow, to learn, and to say that can happen throughout your life,” says Andi.
WHERE: Ainslie 1, corner of Wakefield and Limestone avenues
WHEN: Every second Sunday at 10:15 a.m.
WEB: aflmasters.com.au and