How women like Kylie Chapman are making football great again

Janakan Seemampillai Roar Pro

By Janakan Seemampillai, Janakan Seemampillai is a Roar Pro

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    As if juggling a full-time business as a hairdresser while raising a family of four kids isn’t busy enough, Kylie Chapman also spends countless hours volunteering for Geelong Rangers FC – as president no less.

    “Volunteers aren’t paid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless” is a sign that adorns the clubhouse at Myers Reserve. No one epitomises that better than Kylie.

    Having been involved with Rangers for the past eight years, three of which were on the committee, Kylie was elected as the first female president of the proud club in 2016. Kylie estimates she spends around 10 to 25 hours per week at the club, this after running her own business during the week, and looking after children Hamish (aged 18), Angus (13), Millie (11) and Alfie (7).

    From office duties such as answering emails and phone calls, to attending meetings, preparing uniforms, working in the kitchen and cleaning, Kylie does it all.

    But she is quick to point out the dedication of others, saying, “The volunteers at Rangers are amazing and inspire me to push our club to succeed. It is important for people to know the only way clubs will succeed is with the help of volunteers.”

    Kylie also devotes time to volunteering at other clubs in the region.

    Her first taste of the world game came in 2001, when Kylie met her husband, Mike. After her young boys got involved there was no turning back – she even tried her hand at indoor football a few years ago.

    “I was not great,” she recalls. “I scored an own goal as my first goal and thought I should celebrate, as it might have been my one and only, ever! I did end up scoring a few. Thankfully!”

    Kylie credits her husband Mike and her children, all of whom have played at Rangers, as her biggest inspiration due to their dedication to the game. Mike is a partner at GOFC, who are looking after the next generation of local talent who will represent Geelong at the regional country championships in Morwell in June. Her second eldest, Angus, is a promising young footballer and plays at NPL level for North Geelong Warriors under 14s.

    Kylie is part of a growing number of women with strong voices in the Geelong football community. Successful businesswoman and chairperson of Barwon Water Jo Plummer was recently elected chairperson of the Geelong Region Football Committee (GRFC). Flavia Kaucic is president of Geelong’s sole WNPL club, Galaxy United. Rose Pirrottina presides over Bell Park, one of the oldest clubs in Geelong.

    There are also significantly more women on committees of local football clubs than in years gone by, all of whom add a balanced voice to the often-passionate discussions that take place. Just as importantly, more women are getting involved in coaching, particularly at the grassroots level. Rangers have been active in providing women’s only coaching courses, which has reaped dividends.

    “When I joined the committee, I wanted to ask women if they had anything they could contribute in any area,” Kylie says, “rather than being placed in the kitchen!”

    Kylie agrees there is a strong correlation with the number of mums getting involved in local football at the administrative and coaching level with the growth of the game in Geelong, especially among young girls.

    The MiniRoos participation rate in the region has gone through the roof in the past two seasons, with a 30 per cent growth rate between 2014 and 2016, the number of girls increasing by 20 per cent. A bumper year is expected in 2017 with even more kids set to participate. There are also more girls-only competitions at the MiniRoos level, which is vital for the growth of female football.

    According to Kylie, this is the key to the future: “The introduction of MiniRoos is the best thing that has happened locally. The gala mornings are a tremendous success and the kids are having a ball. Every kid is given the opportunity to be involved.”

    Kylie’s election as president in a traditionally male dominated role is a testament to her strength, dedication and hard work:

    “I think it was a hard gig to break into, a male dominated sport. I think there were people, not just at Rangers, that weren’t that happy that I was a female president. It’s not until you start getting things done that you earn the respect.”

    During her tenure, Rangers have grown significantly on and off the field. The senior men’s team was promoted to State League 2 last season, after winning the third division title. The club successfully held the Geelong Community Cup in January this year, even incorporating the first ever women’s exhibition match between a Geelong Women’s Select team and WNPL club Galaxy United, prior to the cup final. The junior numbers at Rangers have grown by over 25 per cent since 2015, a higher rate than Victoria in general.

    Kylie’s next project is to get a senior women’s team off the ground, and the signs are promising: “After our all girls MiniRoos program, we have increased our girls from 10-25… working from grassroots, now to keep them interested in the game.”

    The direction Rangers are heading coincides with the huge strides being made by the game in the Geelong region, and it’s due to more women being involved.

    What would President Chapman like to see going forward? “I would like to see an improvement in the local competition. We have worked hard to develop our junior squads, to a very competitive level. Local competition for kids in division 1, is very limited. It is very hard at the moment, to challenge our players.”

    With people like Kylie Chapman involved, the future of the world game in Geelong is definitely in good hands.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • April 19th 2017 @ 8:19am
      Post_hoc said | April 19th 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Well done Kylie, and a great article Janakan, enjoyed the read. All the best to Kylie and the Rangers Football Club. Another of Footballs great strengths is female participation is not just a recent marketing invention. I hope we see more females in the coaching ranks, even at grassroots level too many male ego’s.

    • April 19th 2017 @ 9:29am
      Janakan said | April 19th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Matt Jones…Get some help dude. Cynical people like you don’t make the world a better place

      • Roar Guru

        April 19th 2017 @ 11:59am
        peeeko said | April 19th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

        what did he say?

      • April 19th 2017 @ 12:01pm
        jeff dustby said | April 19th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

        its probably something to do with the silly headline not the story

    • April 19th 2017 @ 11:07am
      Ken Spacey said | April 19th 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

      The above post is very astute observation. “Female participation is not just a recent marketing invention” is a gem and gives some perspective to the recent media hype over other code’s sudden awareness of women at all levels. All power to you too Kylie.

      • April 19th 2017 @ 12:47pm
        Perry Bridge said | April 19th 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

        I ponder who you’re thinking of in putting that out there?

        • April 19th 2017 @ 2:49pm
          Ken Spacey said | April 19th 2017 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

          Just reading some of the reaction to Netball Australia board spills. Some reports have folks asking how Netball can work with and yet be in direct competition with the AFL whose clubs own three Netball franchises. An obvious question that’s rarely been raised.

    • April 19th 2017 @ 1:05pm
      Janakan said | April 19th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

      Lots of good women dojng great things for football in Geelong and around the country. It’s been happening for years before the corporate world made it trendy. These women are fantastic role models for both young women and men alike. I don’t think many men appreciate how hard it can be for a woman to crack it into a male dominated “boys club” environment. Unless you’re in their shoes many wouldn’t have a clue what it’s like. Good on people like Kylie doing great things for the world game.

      • April 19th 2017 @ 10:01pm
        saul said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:01pm | ! Report

        Agree, not enough media attention is given to female participation in football despite the large number of women who are involved in the sport on and off the field. The womens AFL gets more news coverage on ABC Sydney news than the mens A league or the W league despite the fact not that many women play or follow AFL in Sydney. It would be great if they could introduce a women’s football section on this site. Bonita Mersiades would be a good person to write a column, she loves the game and has had experience working at the FFA, I think she would certainly write some articles that would ruffle feathers at the FFA.

      • April 19th 2017 @ 10:13pm
        saul said | April 19th 2017 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

        Oh and good article

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