We sat down with newly elected FGC Board Member Maria Roughley to discuss her view on the female game here on the Gold Coast, her motivations to start volunteering and what made her join the board!
MM: Maria you began volunteering over ten years ago now. What made you put your hand up all those years ago?
MR: Predominantly it was my kids that got me involved in the sport. I was trying to set a good example for them back then. I saw people complaining on what doesn’t get done around the club but nobody wanting to put there hand up to do it, so I thought why not and stepped up!
MM: What has been your biggest challenge as a volunteer throughout the years and what keeps you motivated to continue being one?
MR: The game itself I believe has been the biggest motivation for me. At the end of the day we are all here for one reason and that is the game. Regardless of whether it was Miniroos, seniors or simply getting paperwork done, it was all about trying to get the squads ready and able to get out on the field and playing football.
MM: Being around football so long you’ve met a lot people and developed a lot of relationships. What benefit does this have for people wanting to volunteer?
MR: Some of the people I have met through football have ended up becoming life long friends. You have certain people that are there during the season and some that go beyond that. I am lucky enough to have a lot of friends off the field that we see each other regularly which I can thank football for.
MM: You were involved for a long time at a club that wasn’t womens central, but moving to Robina opened that side of the game for you. What was the main difference you saw that made Robina more successful than Merrimac in the women’s space?
MR: I think it came down to having the right people in place. Robina had the same amount of people involved in regular football and women’s football who were equally as passionate. They specifically focused on junior girls football and had people who were passionate about the game and developing talent. The main reason they continue to grow in female football is the way they do things and the standard they have set. Any clubs who don’t have female teams usually send their players to Robina because they know that the girls will be treated as equals. They all play the same game in the same conditions so it’s great to see how they have made the opportunities so balanced and equal.
MM: Now as a board member, you face different challenges in womens football. With the introduction of not only two new WPL licenses but also some Premier League teams pulling out, what is the main difference that you see from a board perspective regarding womens football?
MR: At club level you were only ever looking after a certain amount of teams and players, but at the board level you have to consider every club that want womens. We are not going to get it right straight away and some people may not be happy with the outcomes. I believe that we need to concentrate on getting it right here on the Gold Coast before even considering anything bigger. We need to strengthen the game here and keep it available for all female players to play at the highest possible competition.
MM: What was your main motivation to join the board and what value do you feel you can add to the football landscape here on the Coast?
MR: It was a natural thing for me to do. I went from being involved with the Miniroos, to competition and eventually got closer to the seniors as time went on. Moving to Robina allowed me to get familiar with female football and then after my son finished at club level, the board position was available so I was happy to give it a go. I believe not being affiliated to any club and the passion I have for the game will come through at board level. I want to make sure I can contribute to what is the best way to grow the game and look after it, so I am hoping the knowledge I can bring to the board can be beneficial long term.
MM: What can we expect to see from Football Gold Coast within the immediate future?
MR: I think it is going to be a tough year with the disruption due to the Commonwealth Games so a hard question to answer. A year from now ideally I think the womens will be stronger and have a clear definite structure there. The mens competitions has been sorted so it will be interesting to see how that goes and ultimately increasing our junior numbers would be great for everyone involved.
MM: Lastly, being Female Football Week, what is Football Gold Coast doing to identify the pathways for women not only in the playing circle but coaching and refereeing also?
MR: We have managed to produce a lot of quality throughout these areas but I think we can do even more. Certain clubs have done more than others but from a Football Gold Coast perspective we need to let clubs know what is available and rely on the clubs to pass that information on. The limited numbers in these areas allow for many opportunities for the girls, so it is all about taking them with both hands and making the most of them.