Upgrades to a Midwest football club mean its women’s side no longer must change inside toilet cubicles due to inadequate facilities.
- Rovers Football Club is the first in the GNFL to build a separate space for women’s teams to use
- The club hopes the upgrades will attract more female players to the side
- The change rooms haven’t been updated for almost 50 years
A plan approved by the City of Greater Geraldton will make the Rovers Football Club the first Great Northern Football League (GNFL) team to have dedicated change rooms for female players.
The Rovers recorded their first game on April 7, 1895, and has been a mainstay for the Geraldton community since.
Four years ago, the GNFL introduced its inaugural women’s season and the Rovers pulled together a side of female players.
This season, GNFL president Carrissa Belloitte said the GNFL put forward an average of 22 female players a team.
“The GNFL has seven teams, with about 150 females in total,” she said.
Rovers Captain Bree Parfitt is proud to be part of the side since the beginning.
“It’s super exciting. I think footy for women is going forward, not backwards,” she said.
Redevelopment to help inclusivity
While the club has kept up with the times in offering an inclusive women’s side, Parfitt says the facilities have become outdated.
The Rovers change rooms, built at Greenough Oval in 1976, are “designed for men,” she says.
“Having upgrades to our change room facility will mean a lot to the women’s side, that’s for sure, just so that we can have a bit more privacy.”
Club president and women’s coach Daniel Starling says, after almost 50 years, a refurbishment is needed.
“I’ve been playing since I was a kid there, but not much has changed in those change rooms, especially for the women to be able to keep the young girls comfy,” he said.
“They used to change in a public toilet [but] they’d still use our change room for warming up
“Changing in the public toilet was not the best option but it was kind of all we had.”
This week the football club presented the council with a proposal for funding upgrades to their community and sporting recreation facilities.
Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said the council approved the enhancements to the club rooms.
“Council is highly supportive of developing dedicated change rooms for the female players, it also means dedicated change rooms for the trainers and umpires,” he said.
“They’re not fit for purpose for anyone, let alone women and men at the same time,” he said.
Starling said it was apparent to councillors that the change rooms were inadequate.
“Comments in council meeting was we had the worst change rooms in the local football,” he said.
A first in the GNFL
The project will see the redevelopment of two change rooms, a treatment room and shower rooms, as well as additional change rooms for umpires.
The upgrades will make the Rovers the “first GNFL club to have dedicated female change rooms”, according to the league’s vice president Colin Cox.
The club will also upgrade the canteen facilities and install solar panels.
The council will commit $234,000 to the redevelopment, while the Rovers Football Club will contribute $130,000.
Councilor Styn says the state government will be the last step to confirm the major changes to the club.
“Hopefully, the state [government] will kick-in with their matching $243,000 to get this project done,” he said.
It is hoped the redevelopment will get underway next year.