Newcastle Jets W-League Team

About this Item
SpeakersHornery Ms Sonia; Owen Mr Tim; Burney Ms Linda; Cornwell Mr Andrew; Barr Mr Clayton
BusinessBusiness of the House

Page: 8855

Ms SONIA HORNERY (Wallsend) [11.49 a.m.]: I move:
      (1) that this House notes that Matildas contender Hayley Crawford was nominated W-League Jets player of the year; and

      (2) congratulate Hayley Crawford and all the W-League Jets players for the high standard they set in the Hunter for women in sport.

I will make a few brief points and I know that the contribution from both sides of the House will be supportive of the W-League. I will talk briefly about the history of Hayley Crawford, the W-League Jets in general, and the importance of women's involvement in sport in general. I will highlight the proposed football centre in the Wallsend area and the need for a facility for W-League to play on that has adequate amenities for both genders. After thanking the parents and community for their support in soccer I will say that we need to raise the profile of women in sport and get equal acknowledgment for women in sport. Let us start with Hayley Crawford and why I want to acknowledge her in sport.

It was unfortunate timing that just after I gave notice of this motion, selections for the new W-League Jets team in Newcastle occurred. Hayley has made a decision to stop playing with the W-League Jets and to do something different—which is a shame for the people of Newcastle. I have attended every home game for the W-League Jets for a number of years. I enjoy watching men play sport—and soccer in particular—but I really enjoy watching women play sport. I have been and will continue to be an advocate for more funding and support for female soccer players. I can testify that the Hunter has produced some of the greatest Matildas players in history.

Unfortunately, at the end of the W-League competition, we came fifth out of the seven teams. Canberra, which has a very strong team, won again. But the W-League Jets have a number of players of note, and I would like to commend them. We had world-renowned Matildas goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri, World Cup award winner Ariane Hinks and Australian striker Lisa De Vanna, who played some really spectacular games. I had the pleasure of seeing those W-League matches hosted at Adamstown Oval. We also have some young local contenders rising through the ranks of the Women's Premier League, and I look forward to seeing them play not only for the W-League Jets but also with the Matildas in the future. The reason I move this motion is to raise the profile of women in sport generally, but particularly in soccer. Even women of note who play for the Matildas often have three or four jobs and perhaps go to university in order to earn a living and study while playing sport. That is a pity.

People of the male gender of equivalent ability playing in A-League teams often are paid very well. Hayley Crawford, a former student of Glendale High School, like many of her counterparts in the W-League and the Jets, attends many community events and is studying at university to become a physical education teacher. I know Hayley will be an excellent physical education teacher—probably one of the fittest in New South Wales. She is yet another talented person from the electorate of Wallsend. Hayley and many others have to work and study in order to fund their soccer playing. That is a pity. I suggest that the federation ensure that players of the calibre of Hayley Crawford are funded to play soccer, so that they do not need a number of jobs to support their love of sport, and so that we spectators will have the enjoyment of watching them play for their teams.

I thank all the wonderful parents involved in not only women's sport but soccer generally. Mums and dads get up early in the morning to clean the fields, ensure the quality of the greens and clean the amenities. The member for Newcastle and I have been lobbying for more toilets at Adamstown, where the W-League Jets have been playing—if that is the field that the W-League will be playing at in future. About a thousand people besides me watch soccer, but the oval has only two female toilets. The line-up at half time is incredible. I suggest the Government consider installing more ladies toilets at Adamstown Oval. That is just an aside, but I am sure the member for Newcastle totally supports finding ways to raise funds for those sorts of things. If you want to support women, you should support good facilities for them.

Hayley Crawford has been a wonderful advocate for the W-League as well as for the Hunter and women's sport. We commend her as a former Matildas player and Matildas contender. Hayley is known as a wonderful striker. Helene O'Neill, a member of the board of Northern New South Wales Football, has made comments in support of Hayley and her ability as well as other W-League players. We look forward to a wonderful season next year, and a better season for the Jets. I look forward to many wonderful goals that we can all enjoy. Hopefully, next year we will have a more successful season.

Mr TIM OWEN (Newcastle) [11.53 a.m.]: I join the member for Wallsend in congratulating W-League Jets players on their efforts in this year's competition. As the member mentioned, though they came fifth of seven, they had an outstanding season. I agree they had some key players in their team who have done exceedingly well not only at a local level and inter-league level but also nationally, representing this wonderful country. The W-League provides women with an opportunity to participate in sport at the elite level. I also agree with the member for Wallsend: it is about time that Australia and the State, in league with Football Federation Australia, looked critically at any opportunities that exist to provide additional funding so that these wonderful athletes will not have to work as hard as they now do in their day-to-day jobs, but enjoy some of the fruits and support of the sport enjoyed by their male counterparts.

I note that the W-League's inaugural season commenced on 25 October 2008, with Queensland Roar becoming the first W-League premiers. The Newcastle Jets, the women's league team, was also established in the 2008-09 season, and is currently coached by Mr Wayne O'Sullivan and captained by Ms Hayley Crawford. Ms Crawford has been an exceptional player and her efforts in the field have been rewarded with her nomination as Jets Player of the Year, an award she took out in February this year. Because of her outstanding commitment to her team and the sport, Ms Crawford was again appointed to the Westfield Matildas preliminary squad, an achievement first accomplished eight years ago.

Hayley has had a continuing and outstanding career for many seasons. I agree with the member for Wallsend that Hayley Crawford has performed exceedingly well for a very long time. That should not be surprising when we are talking about someone from the Hunter region, because the region has a great sporting tradition, not only in men's and women's football but in some of the alumni in the rugby league and rugby union worlds. I might mention as an aside that the Hunter's most famous footballer, Craig Johnston, and I were very good friends 20 or 30 years ago. In those days no athlete in soccer had the opportunity at a local level to improve himself or herself, and Craig had to go to the United Kingdom to play in order to progress in the sport. He has been an outstanding representative of the Hunter region, and in his own right put football, or soccer, on the map within the Hunter, particularly in Newcastle.

Hayley Crawford has made 15 national appearances since her debut at the age of 17 years and, as was mentioned by the member for Wallsend, has achieved fantastic results on the field while in the final stages of a teaching degree at the University of Newcastle, where she is studying to be a physical education teacher. Hayley is an outstanding community member who spreads her many talents across the gamut of society in Newcastle and the Hunter region. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate another W-League Jets player, defender Thea Slatyer, on her inclusion in the Matildas squad, along with all players in the league. They are excellent ambassadors for all young people, not only for Newcastle and the region but for the State and Australia. Many young girls spend a lot of time watching these wonderful athletes play and are longing to follow in their footsteps.

I agree with the member for Wallsend about raising the profile of women in sport, particularly in the Hunter region. I had the privilege, over the years that my young son was playing for the Adamstown Rosebuds, of assisting some of the young female team members who work and play at a local level. The quality of these young women athletes, as well as the young men who participate in football and soccer, is outstanding. I personally would like the women's league, particularly Jets players, to play at Hunter stadium. While they are looking at some of the suburban grounds, the city should contemplate these teams playing even curtain-raiser games to the Jets games. That would be outstanding for the women's league.

I also take the opportunity to compliment Hunter Sports Group, which has developed some very strong youth programs in the team that it looks after, particularly in soccer and rugby league. I know that in the soccer sphere its youth development programs attract both males and females. It is a great testament to Hunter Sports Group that it is spending a lot of money helping youth development within the Hunter region, particularly through soccer for young men and women. Finally, I mention a stalwart of soccer in our region, Helene O'Neill. I have spent many a day talking to Helene about the outstanding female athletes we have in the Hunter, particularly in football. I compliment her on her excellent efforts over many decades in supporting and pushing female sport, and I congratulate her on her inclusion on the board of the Northern Football Federation League. I also congratulate the member for Wallsend on her excellent motion.

Ms LINDA BURNEY (Canterbury) [12 noon]: I join the member for Wallsend and the member for Newcastle in recognising Hayley Crawford for her outstanding contribution to women's sport in Australia through soccer, and in particular the W-League Jets in the Hunter area. I note that both speakers gave a good history of Hayley's participation in sport and made a number of comments about issues relating to sport in the Hunter region. The member for Wallsend spoke about the recognition—or in some cases the lack of recognition—of women in sport, particularly the lack of financial support traditionally for women's sport.

When we think about some of the great names of women in sport in Australia, we can go back as far as 1912 when two Sydneysiders, Fanny Durack and Mina Wylie, were the first Australian women to win gold and silver medals, respectively, at the Stockholm Olympic Games. That was the first-ever swimming event open to women at an Olympic Games. I make that point because there is a fine tradition of women excelling in sport in Australia. A social change took place in the 1930s, and women and sports lobby groups began to spring up around the country. High on their agenda was the need for more women's sportsgrounds. Fanned by a new wave of confident and empowered women fresh from universities where they had enjoyed the spoils of the suffrage movement, women's sport began a new era: sport was played, administered and promoted by women, for women. The inequities for women in sport in Australia are amazing, and I found a story that demonstrates it. Traditionally, financial support for women in professional sports has been virtually non-existent. Women began lobbying for more prize money as stories filtered through of gross inequities.

In 1984 a triathlon held in Geelong, Victoria, offered prizes to both female and male competitors. The first woman home received a bike and the first male to finish received two return tickets to Hawaii. That certainly demonstrates the inequities that existed then, and still exist. It is still the case that many professional sportswomen sometimes have to work in more than one job to support their passion and their skills in the sporting arena. As the member for Wallsend pointed out, it is no different in soccer. As we all know, soccer is a huge participatory sport across our electorates, for both men and women. We are all sad that the Matildas did not qualify for the Olympics for the first time since the 1980s. I hope that will spur on administrators and people involved in supporting women in sport, particularly soccer, to have a good look at more ways to support them. Hayley Crawford is a trailblazer and I congratulate her. I congratulate the member for Wallsend on bringing this motion to the Parliament.
    Mr ANDREW CORNWELL (Charlestown) [12.04 p.m.]: I, too, join the member for Wallsend and other members of the House in congratulating all women in sport, who are great role models for young female athletes across New South Wales and Australia. These ladies devote themselves to the game, rising early to train, often working all day at their places of employment and then training again every night. Their dedication and commitment is outstanding and they should be commended and applauded. I also commend the employers of these athletes, who I understand can offer flexibility, compassion and understanding when it comes to the demands of professional athletes. Additionally, these sportswomen are subject to injuries, including dislocated fingers, strained wrists and elbows, bruised hips, grazed knees—

    Ms Katrina Hodgkinson: Sprained ankles.

    Mr ANDREW CORNWELL: Sprained ankles. Yet they are out there again and again, proving to be great sportspeople and an inspiration to young players everywhere. Soccer, or football—depending on who you speak to—is one of the most popular sports for both men and women. It should be noted that FIFA is helping to popularise the game by increasing public awareness and conducting information campaigns to help women overcome social and cultural obstacles, with the ultimate aim of improving women's standing in society. I hope to see that achieved in the near future.
      Football, or soccer, has been a trailblazer in that regard and it is certainly my view that football, perhaps more than any other team sport, has broken down the barrier between men's and women's sport. As other members have noted, the Matildas have played a strong role in that. The whole country has got behind the Matildas over the years, and it is a pity they did not qualify for the Olympics this year. However, they can be very proud of their track record over a very long period.
        It would be remiss of me not to inform the House about the role that one of my local high schools has played in women's sport, particularly in football. Hunter Sports High School is one of the educational jewels in my electorate. I will relate the achievements of some of the wonderful female athletes who have attended Hunter Sports High School. The girls team won the Bill Turner trophy in 2005, 2006 and 2007 in a competition that some 400 to 450 schools across New South Wales participate in every year. Having such a strong track record marks the strength of the targeted sports programs at that school. I congratulate some of the coaches involved at the school: James Pascoe, who is the Newcastle Jets youth team coach, David Lowe, Roy Capitao, Joanne Peters and Jim Foley. They have all played a role in developing football at the school.
          It would also be remiss of me not to inform the House about the strong history of football in the Hunter Valley. We now have the Jets, and those of us who love our football can well remember the fantastic strike that won them their first premiership a couple of years ago. Prior to that we had the Newcastle Breakers and, going back some time—I am sure the member for Wallsend and I have would have crossed paths then—we had the KB United days, with such football luminaries as Joe Senkalski gracing what was then known as the International Sports Centre. Football has a very strong history in our region and the member for Wallsend can be very proud of the achievements of some of the athletes from her electorate. On Wallsend No. 1 Oval I have certainly been on the receiving end when Greg Geise hit the ball over the camphor laurels and into a neighbouring street. Wallsend has a very strong sporting history. This is an excellent motion and I am very happy to speak in support of it.

          Mr CLAYTON BARR (Cessnock) [12.08 p.m.]: I concur with all the remarks that have been made in this debate. The motion has been covered in some depth and intelligence by other speakers, and I will not seek to undermine that. While doing some research prior to speaking today I came across possibly the worst website in the world—the website of Football Federation Australia. Nothing on that website informs people about its history or its background and there is nothing of any topical interest about what happened in the past—it is only what happened last week or yesterday. One of the big worries about that website is that it kept steering me back towards the men's A-League no matter what I clicked on. Quite frankly, I was not interested in the men's A-League; I was trying to find out about the women's W-League.

          The Football Federation Australia copped a huge spray last week from Clive Palmer during his explanation to the rest of the world that it has five executives who are each paid $5 million a year, while the National Rugby League is run by one executive who is on less that $1 million a year. I suggest that Football Federation Australia should use some of that $25 million to improve its website so that fans like me can get some useful information from it.

          Generally in the wider community women's sport comes second to men's sport. I ask people to think about all the fields and facilities that are provided in their local government areas and about who gets to use them. My electorate of Cessnock is full of soccer, rugby league and cricket ovals that soak up quite a bit of council resources through things such as mowing, care and maintenance, fertiliser and topsoil. In Cessnock perhaps only the hockey field is shared equally by males and females. Even though the soccer field is also shared, males use the field 80 per cent of the time. By comparison, the netball courts receive almost no maintenance and upkeep other than that which is provided by the local netball community.

          From the perspective of taxpayers and ratepayers, women's sport is entitled to lay claim to more than it is currently getting. Some of the most popular women's sports are walking and swimming. I wonder how many communities in New South Wales offer wide, extensive walking tracks and networks and/or venues where people can swim all year round. There is certainly not much of that in my electorate. Female ratepayers are entitled to ask for more from their council. Why should a council deliver so much money to maintain male-dominated sporting facilities but not provide the same for females? That issue had not occurred to me until I was asked to speak on this motion. I will take up the issue with my local council because equity is needed.

          It is unfortunate that we never see W-League soccer players in the headlines for the good things. But we also never see them in the headlines for the bad things, which is testament to the ability of those players to conduct themselves in accordance with the high level of behaviour that we expect from role models and athletes of their calibre. I congratulate the women's W-League and all sportswomen. It is unfortunate that we hear only about the women who become world champions. That is quite a height to have to reach to gain coverage in the Australian mass media. That saddest part of the debate on this motion is that only women who make it to world champion in their sport gain any media coverage.

          Ms SONIA HORNERY (Wallsend) [12.12 p.m.], in reply: I congratulate members representing the electorates of Newcastle, Canterbury, Charlestown and Cessnock, and thank them for their contributions to the debate. I agree with the member for Newcastle who said that all in the Hunter share in the success of the Jets. The elite skill level of the W-League Jets is something to behold. One needs only to look at Cheryl Salisbury—one of the most capped soccer players in Australia and a former Matilda—to see that we have some great players and a great history in that sport. The member for Newcastle also mentioned Hayley Crawford. We are all proud of her history. She is an excellent ambassador for women's sport in the Hunter. Craig Johnston was also mentioned. I remember him quite well as one of our notable male players in the Hunter. It is sad that he had to go to the United Kingdom to fulfil his career ambitions.

          I agree with the member for Newcastle that the W-League Jets are excellent ambassadors for their sport. As the member for Cessnock said, we never hear about them doing silly things because they are far too sensible. As women, they would certainly never behave the way some male footballers do—and thank heavens for that. The member for Newcastle also mentioned sporting facilities for women. As I said previously, while the supporters at Adamstown Oval are fantastic, it is not sufficient to have 1,000 spectators and only two female toilets. I hope that we will improve Adamstown field if the W-League Jets are to continue playing there.

          The Hunter Sports Group also deserves acknowledgement. My friend Helene O'Neill could not be a better advocate for women's sport in the Hunter. The member for Canterbury gave us an excellent history of women in sport in this State and this country. She is right that we need to acknowledge and greatly improve upon the lack of financial recognition and support for women in sport in New South Wales and in Australia. As I mentioned, it is not fair that somebody of the calibre of Cheryl Salisbury, who is from Lambton in the Hunter, had to work in order to fulfil her dream to play for the Matildas. I do not know how she did it. The member for Charlestown also commented on the fact that the W-League players are great role models. I join him in commending them for their dedication and commitment. I also agree with the member for Charlestown that Hunter Sports High School has given us many excellent sportspersons. I have been fortunate to attend a number of the Bill Turner Trophy presentations held at Edgeworth Oval, or Edgie as it is known locally. The Hunter sportswomen do exceedingly well at those awards, which is not at all surprising.

          The member for Cessnock spoke about improving the Football Federation Australia website in general and for the W-League in particular. I agree with him. All of us who were looking recently for more information found the website difficult to navigate. I also agree with him that women's sport has unfortunately come second to men's sport. We need to turn that around. In general, we need to turn around our support for all women's codes, including netball, which is very popular. Netball is a great sport in which it is easy for all women in New South Wales to participate. I was hopeless at it, but I support it 100 per cent. Finally, I thank all the parents and the community who assist in women's sport. Cheryl Salisbury and others would not be in the position they are today without the support of their parents. I urge support for this motion.

          Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.

          Motion agreed to.