With the ball at her feet: A living history of female football

rebel Female Football Week is a chance to celebrate those who have the drive and passion to push the women's game forward. One academic in particular, has made it his goal to recognise the history, and the women, who have laid the foundations for today's success.

By Darren Lutton

A living history

Libraries are not what they used to be. They used to be all about books, (lots of them) and silence (lots of silence) and shooshing.

Not anymore.  Libraries are still about information but the formats with which they are accessed are many and varied.  Kids have dedicated areas that are so much fun you wish you were a toddler again.  And there are meeting rooms where presentations are made.

It’s in one of these meeting rooms that we meet Lee McGowan. He’s ten minutes late because he got his timing all wrong and thought he was fifty minutes early. But it’s a sympathetic crowd and Lee immediately charms the audience with stories of women’s football. Yes, women’s football, a man in a library talking out loud about women’s football.

Like I wrote, libraries are not what they used to be.

McGowan is a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and has two daughters.  The family likes football.  He’s seen that not a lot of the history of the female game has been documented so he’s stepped up and put together a website -  www.withtheballatherfeet.com.au. It’s subtitled as a living history of the game, the reason being that McGowan is aware of his shortcomings with this project - he didn’t play in the women’s competition,  he wasn’t there.

However, the women that did, are out there, and they are still involved in the game in some capacity.  Most importantly, they have stories to share.

McGowan’s presentation starts out as a discourse on the history of the game:  first game in 1921, Lily Parr the star of the game in England, the Football Association banning women from playing, the competition recommencing in the 50’s, and again in the 70’s.

Then something magical happened.  Just as everyone in the room had fully acclimatised to McGowan’s Scottish brogue, the audience took over. The people attending the presentation were a living breathing part of the history. Their stories became the event. Facts were challenged, new information was added and requests for a follow up were proposed. A successful event.

With the ball at her feet has many donated pieces which add another layer of texture: Old representative uniforms, match balls, medals and photos.

With the ball at her feet is currently an incomplete record of the history of the game in Queensland.

Perhaps you can add to it? look at the website, look in your cupboards and storage containers.  Look at the library display, attend a presentation and add your magic dust.

To book at one of the presentations click here.

Click here to get involved in women's football, and celebrate rebel Female Football Week.



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