14 August 2017, Melbourne, Australia
Wow! Look at all you beautiful people! I hardly recognise some of you without your footy jumpers & braids.
Thank you everyone for coming to another historic event for the Amateurs.
Speaking of history, we like celebrating historical milestones. This is the 125th year of men playing footy in the Victorian Amateur Football Association & it’s year number 1 for women.
I want you to cast your minds forward to 2067. It will be the 175th year of the VAFA and, more significantly, the 50th year of women playing footy in the Amateurs.
I’m sure they will have a gala event, even bigger & better than this, and someone will tell the story of when this all began. There won’t be a microphone like this but there will be an old screen like that because they will show snippets of the very first game of women’s footy played in the amateurs on Friday April 7th, 2017, between Hampton Rovers and Ormond.
It will seem like so long ago.
The audience will find the grainy old two Dimensional images slightly amusing. Someone will point out Kate MacQueen running around for Ormond. They will all know her because she had been a famous AFL player.
They will marvel at how we used to drive our own cars to the footy, and that there was this round thing called a steering wheel and we used to go like this and use pedals to make the car go where we wanted it to. They will find it hard to believe that it took an hour to get from Mentone to Marcellin.
And they will be intrigued by how we had things called phones & how we looked at them constantly. And these phones had screens and we used to use our fingers to do something called typing which was touching letters on the screen to writemessages. And we couldn’t be with-out them or else we’d get lost.
On this night in the future they may chuckle at our primitive technology, our phones and our segregated toilets but what they won’t giggle at – is us.
They will look back on us with great respect and fondness, as we look back on the good people in history who were adventurous & progressive & who changed things for the better. They will be grateful to the men & women of the VAFA for starting this competition and for the sound foundations we put in place for them.
They will talk about a Board who made the most courageous decision in the 125 year history of the amateurs and, once made, unreservedly and without question supported this venture.
They will mention the small band of staff who, despite already running a competition with 10,000 players, took on the extra work load with enthusiasm and diligence. They will be grateful for the type of competition we ran and how we welcomed and included everyone.
They will listen in disbelief that 2017 was the first year a female umpire had officiated at an AFL match because by then umpiring will be a gender-neutral occupation.
They will thank the progressive & courageous Presidents & Committees of the foundation clubs who had the foresight & energy to see that women’s footy was the way forward.
They will talk about the coaches, who were mainly men in the beginning, who championed our women’s game and without hesitation shared their experience & knowledge.
But above all they will applaud the brave young women who joined up to play, many of whom had never played before. And how, at the start of the season, they turned up to training, awkward & unsure, but who listened and learned and worked hard to mould the competition into what it would become in the future.
They will note those women who went on to play AFL football, become famous coaches & administrators of the game and leaders in all fields in the community as a result of this competition. They may even point out the person who went on to become the first female to run the AFL. They will mention how this competition changed the lives of many of those girls and bettered the community as a whole.
Now, think of this: Some of you players here tonight will be at this function in 2067, you will be in your 70’s and you will be guests of the VAFA and revered as pioneers and legends of the competition.
So: In 50 year’s time remember this night, and this year, and what all of us here have collectively achieved. Look back on it with great pride and truly appreciate what you were part of.
And as voices from the future we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.