Story of Women’s Football
The St Mark’s women’s football started with just four people: three female footballers Beverly, Lara, and Fiona, with training from coach Will. These four members committed to playing football week after week, and their time, dedication, and love for football allowed their small group to thrive. Coming from using chairs as supplementary “players”, the St Mark’s women have seen their numbers grow. Founding member Lara says, “We had no idea how we were going to pay for the rental of the pitch as well as the coaches time – but we kept trusting, kept coming and our excitement never faded”.
Now with a mailing list of over 80 people and with football Thursdays regularly attended by about 18 people, the St Mark’s Magnolias have witnessed the impact among the women playing, their families, and their coaches. Through playing and socialising together, stereotypes are being broken down and replaced with love, as women across such a vast variety of ages can play together and mutually respect each other. In addition to a positive response from the women playing, the young coaches have been surprised by the women’s enthusiasm and have enjoyed being part of their journey.
As for using football as a door for the gospel and impacting the community, Lara says, “Being a team sport that you can play all year round, outside in all weathers, almost anywhere with just a ball and some jumpers means we can and have played it almost anywhere we’ve been together. It provides opportunities to gather, team build, compete together and travel which allows us to get to know one another, care for each other and pray for each other. We share what we are doing and this includes church events and volunteer work we are involved in and invite one another to try things out together.”
The community shared among the St Mark’s women has only grown over the past two years, as more women are finding the Magnolias as a safe place where women from all walks of life and stages of life can come and enjoy themselves doing something healthy and unexpected with fun and encouraging people. As to what Lara has as advice for others considering starting a football ministry, specifically directed towards women, she says, “Big welcoming smiles, encouragement and patience towards people of all levels (especially the ones who think they are beyond your level). Enthusiasm, tea, cake and prayer….these have been our secret weapons.”