Western Springs’s inclusivity work gets big member engagement - from Northern Region Football

8 May

Following WSAFC's great start to our Girls and Women's initiatives in 2024, Northern Region Football posted the following in a recent news article.

Click here to visit the article!

Western Springs is striving to make the club a​n even​ better place for women and girls at all levels, implementing a range of initiatives designed to better support their players and increase female participation, and committing to Northern Region Football’s Gender Equity Charter. Despite 2023’s well-publicised issues, Springs are making great progress towards this goal, and bringing their members with them.   

"Our club has actively promoted the women and girls game for some years, and NRF’s Gender Equity Charter was a natural extension of that work - we were pleased to get in behind it and see other clubs also sign up. Off the back of the FIFA WWC year, we kicked off a number of specific initiatives which are now coming through,” said Grant Ramsay, Western Springs Chair.  

Western Springs held a series of one-on-one interviews and open forums in the last quarter of 2023, generating over 200 ideas for consideration and improvement, showing a high level of engagement from members.  

“We held several workshops with members to get their views – there were a lot of post-it notes!” said Julie Dunn. “Some ideas needed money, others required volunteer hours, so it was a matter of grouping ideas, seeing what needed volunteer hours, what needed funding and defining the best next steps to take now and what was for the future.”  

From there, the Women & Girls Working Group was able to develop a draft Action Plan and share it with members.  “The ​consultation​ process was really worthwhile, with fantastic engagement throughout the club and a great deal of thought going in,” said Santha Brown, a parent and member of the Working Group.   

“​It has​ been hugely valuable and our challenge is keeping this momentum going. We held a youth player forum that was really energising – the players’ feedback was they wanted somewhere they could call their own in the club, somewhere that wasn’t just a bar, so we set aside an area and kitted it out with a table tennis table and some bean bags. They couldn’t believe it, and asked ‘Is this ours?’ – we were delighted to say it was,” said Julie Dunn 

​​Head​ of Women’s Football Maia Vink says it’s an exciting time for the club. “There’s a real chance for people to think about what they want for the club’s future to look like. That’s not just for women’s football, but for the whole club and what kind of experience we want for all our members.”  

“There’s a real push to keep this work in focus, as we work towards the outcomes we want. How do we make our social occasions friendly and our spaces welcoming? I think we’re seeing some really ​valuable initiatives​ coming from the work that’s been done.”  

“To anyone ​developing a Women & Girls Plan for their club​, I’d say set aside sufficient time upfront for planning – and there’s the risk that not every idea can be put in place with limited time and resources to go around. So it’s crucial to manage expectations and keep the lines of communication open with club committees and members,” said Julie Dunn.  

“It’s been encouraging to see the extra effort going in and members having the opportunity to directly involve themselves in our future direction. The real challenge and demonstration of success will be not only growing the number of women and girls playing football but also seeing increased involvement in coaching and running the Club.  Achieving this requires a long term view and commitment and I firmly believe we have the team to do it," said Grant Ramsay. 

“I’ve worked in football for I don’t even know how long now, and this club has some real direction, it’s really clear on its action plan and initiatives, and how to go about it,” said Maia Vink.  

“It’s really heartening to see the commitment Springs have to made to making their club more inclusive and the progress they’ve made. This isn’t always easy work, but the openness and willingness to listen, alongside the dedication of the volunteers running this process is positive for the club ,” said Laura Menzies.  

The Gender Equity Charter is about making football clubs more inclusive for girls and women, with eight NRF clubs signing up at a Wāhine in Football event during FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.  

All the clubs are at different stages in this mahi – the first step is benchmarking where clubs are at now, defining where they want to get to, and the steps that are needed to get there. The Equity Charter focusses  on:  

  • Leadership - Leadership and governance that reflects and supports gender equity 
  • Participation - Equitable participation and development opportunities, including juniors and youth girls-only football 
  • Visibility - Make girls and women visible, showing their value in our club 
  • Resources - Equitable resources and opportunities for girls and women 
  • Facilities - Fit for purpose facilities that meet the specific needs of girls and women in our club