An anonymous over achiever

October 23, 2017

Alex Cheal (right) has been selected to play for Melbourne Victory ahead of the 2016/2017 season.

SHE has worn the green and gold in five different sports.

She has won world cups.

She’s one of Australia’s most successful multi-sport athletes.

And I’ll guarantee none of know who she is.

I know I didn’t.

Her name is Tricia Brown.

Her brother Darryl, who coaches the Echuca-Moama Border Raiders women’s soccer side, has always been frustrated by this.

‘‘You can probably hear how passionate I am about this,’’ he said.

‘‘But people have never talked about women’s sport.’’

For the longest time women’s sport has been an afterthought.

These athletes, who until recently were rarely paid as professionals, maintained full-time work.

They lived lives the same as most of us.

Then they trained for their sports.

They became national representatives.

And no one seemed to know.

Worse than that, no one seemed to care.

That image is starting to change.

Women’s sport has been gathering momentum at an unprecedented rate in the last few years.

This has been partly due to the rise of competitions like the W-League and WBBL.

There has also been the incredible rise of AFLW, which has taken the sport by storm.

Women’s sport has also been on the rise in Echuca-Moama.

On top of our well established netball league, women’s football and soccer have experienced major growth in previous seasons.

This means that women in the region can now begin the pathways to elite sports here in the community.

Mick McInnes, coach of Echuca’s women’s football team, said opportunities like this gave women a genuine direction in a game they love.

‘‘There’s a lot of young girls out there who love football,’’ McInnes said.

‘‘Most girls and women out there are supporting AFL, and there is no difference between them and the boys.

‘‘Except now they have a pathway to actually get involved.”

Women who wanted to play gender-specific sport have waited years for their moment on the field.

Now, through grass roots opportunities provided by local clubs, women are finding the opportunities are not only available, but are a real pathway to success.

A $6.7 million grant by the Victorian Government will see more opportunities open up for women to be involved in grassroots sport.

The money is a part of a number of Victorian Government programs announced last week.

AFL Victoria and the Football Federation of Victoria will both get a slice of the action and that means more opportunities for their exploding women’s teams.

For the Border Raiders, the program to send women to the elite level has already been successful.

‘‘We’ve had three players in my time who have gone on to play W-League and Alex Cheal, who did play W-League, recently captained South Melbourne to another championship in the national women’s premier league,” Brown said.

‘‘There’s definitely a pathway there for women who do want to go further.’’

For both coaches, the message is simple — come and play.

‘‘Just come down,’’ Brown said.

‘‘It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played before, or whether you’re to take it seriously or just to have fun.’’

McInnes agreed.

‘‘Every girl who comes along is excited and they just want to get out and play,’’ he said.

‘‘Were in the middle of off-season training so we train on Wednesday’s at six at Victoria Park for anyone who wants to come and have a go.’’

Brown said while he was happy with the progress made, it was just a small first step and there was still a long way to go.

‘‘And I’m not giving up on women’s sport,” he added.


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