Former Matilda greats and FFA Hall of Famers Alison Forman and Joey Peters have differing but equally important messages for the powers that be as football recovers from the COVID19 crisis.
“I do believe the virus has made society make assessments that are long overdue and it is true that we can define in a better manner what we return to and that includes within football,” says Forman, who was capped 77 times by Australia.
“The money side of the game must be kept real and I truly believe the women's game keeps the game and everything around it real.”
Forman‘s international career spanned 14 years and included two World Cups and an Olympic Games. She currently lives in Denmark and helps run the popular Dana Cup Hjørring, an international youth tournament featuring over a thousand teams from around the world.
Forman wants to ensure girls and women are still given the same opportunity despite the crippling financial position that football now finds itself in.
“Girls and women need exactly the same as the men,” says Forman. “They need qualified coaches, access to facilities, access to exactly the same options and possibilities as boys and men have at this time.
“An equal playing field, where young girls get the opportunity to test themselves and as they progress, the opportunity to devote themselves 100% to football alone, and not having to work on the side to be a top-class professional women's player.”
Forman also encouraged clubs from the grassroots level to the elite to invest in programs that give boys and girls an equal chance at achieving their potential. She also emphasised the importance of including females in the decision-making process.
“We need to implement general structural plans in all clubs specialised to ensure girls and women have the same opportunities as the boys and men at all levels," she said.
“Make the women's game sustainable on its own measures, raising the bar from youth football all the way to women's football.
“We also need to ensure there is female representation at all levels within football from the board room to the playing field.”
Peters, who played 110 games for Australia, took a left-field approach when asked how to confront the current situation, encouraging authorities to put children’s well-being ahead of their football development.
Peters, who runs Game Play Learn, a successful child education model designed to ‘hide learning in fun’, hopes clubs put the physical and emotional needs of kids above scoreboard success.
“It’s the same for all sport, are we happy putting money and trophies first?” questions Peters.
“What about human rights, community and connection? Do we want to settle for the temporary gain of the next win or be remembered as the generation that changed sport for the better?
“Kids are dropping out and parents are spending their lives chasing a dream that only 1% achieve anyway. Do we want to keep chasing after the wind or look after the 99% staring us in the face?”
Peters went a step further and encouraged clubs, especially at the elite level, to ensure juniors don’t pay the price for seniors to get unrealistic wages.
This is a relevant point with the cost of grassroots football a major concern for parents, especially in the current climate.
“Equality in not only gender but age as well,” says Peters. “Club budgets shouldn’t be paying for the first team, why shouldn’t it go to the kids first?
“Why do we select kids so early? Everyone has a right to play. The best 10-year-old isn’t going to be the best 18-year-old anyway, what a waste.
“They want to spend money on first-team players for a piece of metal? Surely this crisis has taught us a few things about what matters in life.”
Peters was hopeful that all involved in football will use the necessary post COVID19 rebuild to re-assess where their priorities lie.
“When else are we going to get the chance in life to stop, get off the treadmill and take a good look at our lives?
“Are we happy with the world? Someone upstairs is giving us a second chance on how we do things. Please let’s not go back to normal.”