Sun. May 26th, 2024

The Football Club that Helped Launch Matildas Stars is Now Hanging by a Thread

Samantha Parker By Samantha Parker May21,2024
Key Points
  • During the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, support for women’s football increased dramatically in Australia.
  • Canberra United has launched many Matildas players, but the club is now struggling to stay afloat.
  • Organisers of the Save Canberra United campaign say the 2023-2024 season could be the club’s last.
In many ways, has never been bigger.
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup broke viewing records, sold out stadiums, and to join their local teams.
But despite the surge in support for the sport, one team with an impressive history is on the verge of collapse.
Throughout 16 years in the national league, Canberra United Football Club has been home to players who have become household names, including Matildas Michelle Heyman (who captains the club), Hayley Raso and Ellie Carpenter.

Now, the club has warned the 2023-24 season could be its last due to financial hardship.

In the Save Canberra United online fundraiser, organisers cite a “range of factors” including rising costs, relatively low levels of funding, and being managed by governing body Capital Football.
Capital Football runs both grassroots football in Canberra and the professional team. In other cities, professional teams are run separately.
Former Matilda Sue Read, who is leading the campaign, said the club is struggling to meet minimum costs and is chronically underfunded, with many people working for free and players having multiple jobs.
“Last season, for example, sometimes they couldn’t afford recovery drinks for players, they can’t afford to pay the massage therapist; there’s a lot of people working for free,” she said.

“I think the backdrop of this though, as a professional women’s sport … we seem to have had just a chronic underfunding, I would say, into our women’s high-level teams.”

Canberra United is the only standalone women’s A-League team, with all others in the competition also attached to a men’s team.
Read said she believes women’s teams have historically not received adequate government funding compared with men’s teams.

“There is a very long way to go before there’s any level of equality of traditional funding mechanisms,” she said.

In a , Capital Football CEO Samantha Farrow said the organisation wants Canberra United to continue playing in the A-League in 2024/25 and beyond.
“Capital Football continues to explore all avenues to ensure that Canberra United take the field for Season 17, seeking new sources of investment having exhausted traditional revenue and funding streams,” the statement said.
“We are working alongside the Canberra A-League bid, the APL, and the ACT Government to explore additional opportunities. “
The Save Canberra United fundraiser, which launched on 5 April, is aiming to raise $300,000 to help cover coaching and support staff, training facilities, uniforms, performance support, accommodation, meals and nutrition, and transport.

At the time of writing, over $58,000 has been raised.

A man holding a sign in a stadium holding a sign that reads "keep football in the capital"

Canberra United fans and members are trying to save the club as it struggles to stay afloat. Source: AAP / Lukas Coch

Njegosh Popovich, head coach of Canberra United, said he is hopeful the club will be able to continue.

“I am definitely optimistic,” he said.
“I think the game itself needs it, and I think there’s enough support out there that will come to fruition to hopefully get us over the line to be able to continue.”
Read said she hopes the fundraiser and campaign can highlight inequity and improve financial support for women’s sport in years to come.
“It’s about more than just about Canberra United,” she said.

“It is about broader issues around women’s sport and funding, and it’s also about creating our next Matildas.”

Samantha Parker

By Samantha Parker

Samantha is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the truth behind the headlines. With years of experience in investigative reporting, she has covered a wide range of topics including politics, crime, and entertainment. Her in-depth analysis and commitment to factual accuracy make her a respected voice in the field of journalism.

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2 thoughts on “The Football Club that Helped Launch Matildas Stars is Now Hanging by a Thread”
  1. How could a club with such a rich history and contribution to women’s football be on the brink of collapse? What more can be done to save Canberra United?

    1. Well, it’s truly disheartening to see Canberra United facing such challenges despite their significant role in promoting women’s football. I believe raising awareness through social media campaigns, partnering with local businesses for sponsorships, and encouraging community engagement can help rally support and secure the club’s future.

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