The backbone of any sport is the tireless work of volunteers that have a strong passion for the game.
Football is blessed with an abundance of these volunteers at the grassroots; women and men who have driven the growth of the game at the community level. These committed individuals have become respected leaders within their communities due to their dedication, experience and expertise.
With the help of our Member Federations, 126 of these community leaders have been identified and appointed as Community Bid Champions, providing a crucial link between our Bid campaign and football at a local level.
Each Community Bid Champion has a unique football story that illustrates their passion for the world game.
WA representative Neil Bennett is no different, as someone that has been involved in the game for 53 years as a player, coach and volunteer.
Currently coach of the Northern Redbacks U14s Girls, Bennett’s life long affiliation with the game is for one reason.
“I love it. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
“As a migrant it helped me to form bonds and friendships with new people when I first arrived in Perth.”
“The camaraderie helped ease the homesickness I felt, and made me feel a part of Australia. The friendships I have formed have been long lasting and enriching.”
For Lennox Head Football Club’s Thaya Evenden, her 34-year participation in the game has seen her taken on roles as a player, coach, senior women's registrar and president. The game has been a part of her daily life since she was four and half years old.
“It has made me feel included in something much bigger than myself,” Evenden said.
“Through football I’ve become more confident and outgoing and positive. It has taught me to be resilient and never give up.”
The benefits that football has provided Eastern Suburbs Football Association’s Julia Chernoukha led her to a desire to return something back.
“I’m here purely to give back to our game which has given so much to me,” she said.
“I hope to show the next generations what a special community we are part of and how their lives can be enriched by being part of it.”
[READ MORE: Full List of Community Bid Champions]
For all the Community Bid Champions, assisting in bringing the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ to Australia is a big motivator in their accepting their appointment as a Community Bid Champion.
“I'm passionate about Australia hosting the World Cup here,” said Bennett.
“The dreams of many young girls will be sharpened if we win the Bid. Many of them won't be able to reach the heights of playing for the Matildas, but all of them can join in and take part in the biggest festival of women's soccer in the world.”
Community Bid Champions play a key liaison role, working closely within their local clubs to develop key partnerships and communicate effectively about grassroots initiatives that strengthen our Bid in every region across the country. Their efforts have already been noticeable in ensuring clubs are engaged with the Bid.
We thank all 126 Community Bid Champions for their ongoing commitment to spreading the word about football, and encouraging Australians to #GetOnside for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ Bid.