FFA have gone in-ranks to appoint Rae Dower as their women's technical advisor to address critical pathway issues with the next generation of Matildas and W-League talent.
FFA spoke publicly midweek about the urgent need to appoint figures to oversee the W-League to Matildas development pathways to ensure the next generation are given the optimal chance of success.
It was in the wake of FFA's plans for the new Matildas coach, with Carolina Morace still the supposed leading candidate, to play a key role in talent identification and development, as well as developing an Australia female coaching staff.
Dower will also continue in her role as Junior Matildas coach, after her team exited their last tournament, the AFC U/16 Championships, in fourth place last year after a draw and two losses.
It was the first time the Junior Matildas had ever made it past the group stage in the competition, but still a poor result overall. The Junior Matildas struggled to a comeback draw against Bangladesh and were well-beaten by North Korea, before losing to China 2-1.
Those results shone a light on the fact that despite being one of the world's best senior national teams, the Junior Matildas have never qualified for the U/17 World Cup.
On the one hand, that shows that junior results aren't everything. Many of the current Matildas squad also failed to qualify as Young Matildas back in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
On the other, it's a slightly worrying inditement for any future "platinum generations" as FFA CEO James Johnson called the current squad. Besides, those previous generations were never belted the way this generation's Young Matildas were.
The Young Matildas are under Leah Blayney, not Rae Dower, and were embarassed in their last AFC U/19 Championships, losing 7-0 to Japan and 9-1 to South Korea in their final two matches, and haven't qualified for the U/20 World Cup since 2006.
They did, however, beat Thailand and Vietnam.
Johnson said Dower’s experience as coach and educator made her the ideal candidate, with Dower's experience of Australian women's football at both the national level and her sterling W-League record hard to argue with
Dower is now set to work under a new Matildas coach and seemingly, according to FFA's own objectives, in a leading role to potentially take over the national team at a future period.
“Rae’s knowledge of and passion for women’s football in Australia is undeniable, and with her strong network and connections in the sport we’re confident she will help us make improvements to the women’s pathway,” Johnson said.
“Women’s Football is central to the future growth and development of Australian football and we are proud to be creating an environment which is supportive of women entering senior administrative roles in football. Rae’s continuation as Westfield Junior Matildas Head Coach, in addition to her expanded scope as Women’s Technical Advisor, is a step we are taking directly in pursuit of the key measures proposed in Principle Ten of the XI Principles for the future of Australian football.
“As a former player, Westfield W-League Head Coach, and an experienced Coach Educator, Rae is well equipped to help FFA develop its women’s and girls’ competition structures, talent identification processes, and through her advocacy and advice, help the game grow its female player pool."
Dower will still fall largely under FFA's national teams technical director Trevor Morgan, who in keeping with Dower's appointment, is also the Joey's (U17 men's) head coach. Although unlike Dower, Morgan's appointment was ostensibly an interim one.
Dower believes her role will be to assist in ensuring the delivery of the XI Principles blueprint for football's future.
At the present time however, the ambition for the Matildas to be world champions appears a long way off and there are no new faces behind the scenes that suggest anything will change quickly.
“This new dual role with FFA provides me with a great platform to continue to contribute to Australia’s female player pathway and processes and provide advice to Trevor (Morgan) and James (Johnson) regarding possible improvements we can make with the ultimate aim of fulfilling the vision outlined in the XI Principles,” Dower said.
“It’s a truly exciting time to be involved in women’s football in Australia and globally, with rapid growth in many areas of the sport currently being witnessed. Young girls and women have never had a better opportunity to develop a career in football, but there is much more that can be done to ensure our best young talents have every chance possible to progress from their grassroots club to the W-League and Matildas.”