The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2007™ in China was a watershed tournament for the Matildas. And over 8,500 kilometres away, their performances sparked a transformation in a club in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.
Founded in 1966, for over 40 years Salisbury Inter Soccer Club was a men’s only football club fielding teams in the South Australian Amateur Soccer League.
However, like many clubs around Australia, they took advantage of the Matildas’ achievements and the rise of women’s football following the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2007.
In 2008 Salisbury Inter fielded their first women’s football team and in the decade since have grown to six senior teams – including fielding a side in the National Premier League – and ten junior teams in every age group from U7s to U17s.
“Our club is built on a philosophy that anyone can play; social or elite, with no experience or years of experience, and they can have fun and learn the game,” said club President Bianca Simeoni.
“This year we have the biggest female participation of any football club in South Australia with our combined senior women’s and junior girls’ teams.”
In her 13 years at the club Simeoni has seen firsthand the club’s increased commitment to gender equality and opportunity for both male and female participants.
That commitment has not just been on the pitch, but also off the pitch, as evidenced by the make-up of the Committee which Simeoni leads.
“We have women and girls in many roles across the club from our head coach, trainer, secretary and 60% of our committee members.”
“We worked very hard with our junior girls’ teams to establish and grow them. A few people in coaching/coordination have been integral in working alongside me and the committee, including Tam Simeoni, Renee Tonani, Daniela Marlitsis, Marty McKee and Nathan Horn.”
That rapid expansion of the women’s side of Salisbury Inter has seen their female registration numbers grow from 14 players in 2008 to 225 players in 2019, comprising a diverse range of backgrounds.
A testament to the quality of the programs implemented has been the club’s ability to attract some of the best coaching and playing talent in the state, including from their local W-League club Adelaide United, as well as former Matildas.
“Tracey Jenkins (former Matilda) has been our head coach for the WNPL in the 2018 and 2019 seasons,” Simeoni said.
“She has been wonderful for our club, bringing high standards and not only coaching our players but also our other coaches. Tracey has a great love for the game and people involved and is certainly contributing to our success and growth.”
“Emily Condon [United forward] joined our club this year and has been outstanding on and off the pitch, along with Chantelle Ryder (2018-2019) and former W-League goalkeeper Sian McLaren (2017-2019).
“We continue to build year after year and this season we made club history finishing in the Top 4 for the first time and playing in the Finals Series.”
While the success of the Women’s National Premier League side is a source of pride for Bianca Simeoni, at the heart of Salisbury Inter is continuing to instil the sense of community that has kept the club going for over 50 years.
That community ethos is now balanced with providing limitless opportunities for young girls to reach their full potential.
“We strive to keep our fees affordable so that anyone in our community is able to play the sport and have some of the cheapest registration fees in the state.”
“A limitless future for the club is watching our junior girls become Premier League players for our club, and eventually Matildas!”