Just over a year after Matilda and MiniRoos Ambassador Steph Catley helped launch the AIA Vitality MiniRoos program, Football Federation Australia have built on the ever growing popularity of the game by helping local clubs to deliver the new AIA Vitality MiniRoos for Girls (M4G) program for beginners aged 4 to 9.

On a warm Tuesday evening, during Female Football Week, parents flocked down to AS Tanner Reserve in Monterey to watch their children participate in Ramsgate RSL FC’s M4G program with a special guest appearance from Westfield W-League Sydney FC captain Theresa Polias.

In a week where female football has been in the spotlight the local junior said the combination of International Women’s Day, Female Football Week, and the Matildas’ successful Olympic qualification was the culmination of the recognition and acknowledgement of their involvement in the sport.

“It is all the one package. It is great timing for such a huge event to happen [Matildas Olympic qualification] and what the girls have achieved over there [in Japan] is amazing for the sport; for women, young girls and it couldn’t be any better,” Polias said.

Polias, who first laced up her boots as a five-year-old for Rockdale Raiders was humbled to give back to the grass roots where she developed a love for the game, and said the sky is the limit on the back of the governing body’s investment in the female game.

“When I was a youngster there weren’t too many girl teams around and I had to prove myself amongst the boys and it was tough,” Polias said.

“It made me stronger and there were advantages but [now] I look around and see so many young girls playing and I am in awe,” she said.

Ramsgate RSL FC President Leo Blanda hoped Theresa’s presence at the club’s MiniRoos for Girls program would be the catalyst for more girls to enrol in football as the club continue to get the awareness of the girl’s game out there in the community.

“We are trying to get as many girls to turn up as possible and have now got 12 girls who are registered in the program,” Mr Blanda said.

“What we are going to do as a club is continue this program during the season and even though they are not playing on a Saturday morning they can come down and play during a week night,” he said.

M4G consists of short, 45 minute sessions and is all about having fun, playing with your friends and learning new skills. The activities are game-based, non-competitive, and can be catered to players of all abilities.

“We have had a lot of parents come to us and say they want to enrol their girls to play but have always been hesitant to play against boys so having this program has done a lot for the club,” Mr Blanda continued.

Ella Watson, an enthusiastic six year old, is one of the participants in Ramsgate’s M4G program and is relishing the girls-only, introductory program.

“I like kicking the ball and my friend Lexie from big school [Ramsgate Public School] also plays”.

Ella’s father Brad who comes from a rugby league background was impressed by the set up of the program along with the engagement with the coach, girls, parents and club.

“It’s about giving her an introduction so she can get familiar with what it [M4G] is about to see if she has a liking towards it,” Mr Watson said.

“She [Ella] is young, active and it was about getting her outdoors playing. Her mother is playing this year which is something she is really excited about and when this program came up we thought it was a great idea to enrol her”.

“To go along with the fact that the club said it goes in conjunction with Club Football is just a bonus for parents because it helps with costs and if they like it is an easy follow through”.

A fellow parent from the session whose daughter had returned for her third week in a row praised Ramsgate RSL FC for providing M4G as a participation option for her daughter.

“We tried it to see if she really enjoyed playing soccer first and learn some skills but she has loved it,” Mrs Chiew said.

“We were worried girls drop out of team sport in their teenage years so that is a really important thing for us to have our girl play a sport,” she concluded.

Since time of writing, Ramsgate RSL FC have notified us that 6 participants from their M4G program have registered to MiniRoos Club Football teams for the winter season.

Parklea SC and Mosman FC have also delivered M4G programs this pre-season and had Western Sydney Wanderers players Eliza Ammendolia and Jada Whyman attending as part of ‘Female Football Week’.

If you would like to know more information about the AIA Vitality MiniRoos please visit: miniroos.com.au.