Tasmania’s peak soccer body has called on the government to level the playing field when it comes to funding the sport in the state.
Football Tasmania chief executive Matt Bulkeley said the organisation had made a submission to the state government for its 2020/2021 budget outlining areas that could be benefited from further funding.
“With Ausplay statistics estimating over 38,000 people already play the world game in Tasmania, football is more popular than any other sport in the state, yet it continues to receive just a fraction of the funding provided to other sports,” he said.
“We are seeking our fair share of funding to expand our focus on increasing access to junior participation in low socio-economic areas, pushing towards complete gender equality in football and increasing our engagement in schools.”
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Mr Bulkeley said as well as being the fastest growing sport in the state, soccer’s popularity was further aided by the possibility of Launceston hosting games for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“The 2023 World Cup opens a host of exciting opportunities to grow the profile and participation of football in Tasmania and inspire the next generation of players to pull on the boots,” he said.
Football Tasmania also proposed a partnership with the Department of Education to upgrade school facilities for soccer usage after school.
Launceston United is Tasmania’s largest soccer club, with about 600 members.
Co-captain of the women’s senior team Katie Hill said she got into soccer because of her brothers and father.
“I couldn’t wait when I was old enough to play … I remember getting my first pair of hand-me-down boots and I was so excited that the night before the game I slept in them,” she said.
Ms Hill said at times soccer had a reputation of losing players in between age groups, and often boys will be pressured to play Aussie rules while girls would be pressured to play netball.
“With the concept of us as a country … hosting the World Cup boosts the profile so much for kids – to be able to see your heroes play is an exceptional opportunity,” she said.