Girls football at fever pitch

Greater Dandenong mayor Lana Formoso and Dandenong City players at the Dandy Cup.

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

Riding on a Matildas high, nearly 700 girls flocked to a maxed-out regional soccer tournament in Endeavour Hills.

More than 70 teams from across the South East registered their interest for the inaugural Dandy Cup on 13-14 April, but organiser Dandenong City Football Club could only fit 52 teams across the three pitches.

It was an “overwhelmingly positive” weekend but the sport is still struggling to cater for the enormous surge of interest., Dandenong City women’s technical director Daniella Muretic said.

“Our club Dandy City epitomises the rapid growth of junior football, which has been accelerated by the Matildas and the 2023 World Cup.

“We now have cracked 100 female players, which is a club record, and it would be closer to 150 if we could cope with the demand.”

Muretic said the club was working with the council and MPs for solutions.

“We have seen first-hand the positive effects of playing football in our team environment, and we would love to provide opportunities to more of them in our rapidly growing south-east catchment.

“We are confident the all the girls who participated in the tournament will walk away having had a positive experience. And we have every intention of making this an annual event and making it bigger and better in 2025.”

Greater Dandenong mayor Lana Formoso witnessed the “inspirational” event first-hand.

“As the mayor of the most culturally diverse council area in the state, and a PE Teacher in our city who played football in my youth, I’m incredibly impressed by the work and initiatives Dandenong City is doing to promote female football.

“Our community is the least active in Australia, which is a reason I ran for local government – to improve the health outcomes of our community, especially for young females.”

South Eastern Metropolitan MP Lee Tarlamis was impressed with the “passion for football” that shone through at the tournament.

“It’s no wonder that football is the fastest growing code in the country. Women’s football is growing even faster.

“We’re always looking at new ways in which we can actually provide facilities and access for everyone to be able to play as often as they want to.

“The fact that this tournament isn’t bigger is not because Dandy City couldn’t organise a bigger event or there is not enough interest. It’s purely because of facilities.

“If they had the capacity, facilities wise, there would be so many more here today. And again, it just shows how popular football is.”