It is in the stories of the pioneers that history expresses a longing for recognition and acknowledgement of past efforts and successes that have remained untold. The stories are about how the women came to play the game, the hardships they faced and meaning of what playing football meant to those who pioneered the game in Australia.
Greg Downes became interested in women’s football (soccer) due to the involvement of his youngest daughter Caitlin. Greg was involved in many roles over the years his daughter played club, school and regional representative soccer in northern NSW with the Byron Bay club. He has been both club- and representative-team manager, club treasurer, regional-committee member, supporter and general dogsbody.
As a parent Greg became aware of the many injustices and discriminations faced by young girls and women in their pursuit to play the game. During this time he became involved in the fight to make his daughter’s involvement in soccer an inclusive one.
While studying for his Masters, Greg used examples of these injustices faced by women involved in football as topics for his research. He came to realise that little or no research had been done on the history of women’s football in Australia. The voices of the women were unheard and were yet to be written into the history of the game.
Greg’s PhD research topic, An oral history of women’s football in Australia, addresses this shortage of knowledge by asking the question – ‘What can the oral history of women who played and play the game of football contribute to the understandings of gender and football history in Australia?’ Greg plans to use the research to recognise the pioneers of the game in Australia and to acknowledge the sacrifices they made in order for them to play a game they loved.
Dr Greg Downes is a sessional academic and completed his PhD thesis in 2016 with Victoria University, in Melbourne Australia. Greg currently writes, teaches and researches in women’s sport history, sport management and human services.
Greg lives in Lennox Head on the far north coast of NSW Australia.