Of the ten football clubs in Southland three currently have female Presidents and each of them share common ground. All three acknowledge supportive, hard-working committees that back them up and all three talk of social, family orientated clubs.
Bronwyn Campbell, President of Winton FC, got involved through her children. Her two sons got involved when they were little and Bronwyn got more involved to help understand the game better. “I stepped in to coach the boys’ teams when they were short of coaches and I received really good support from our Junior Co-ordinator Wendy Boniface and Mandy Smalley,” she says.
“My first year of playing the game was 2009 and in 2010 I was asked to become a committee member. I also assisted with the management of the Winton Ladies team. I became President in 2013 and have been in the role ever since. I really enjoy it. I have a very good Management Committee, there are ten of us and it was set up very well by Mandy Smalley and Wendy Boniface before me.”
In 2016 I was part of the Women’s Team to the Masters Games in Dunedin where we call ourselves the Country Cowgirls and I have gone to the last three in 2016, 2018 and 2020. We are a very family focused club, my husband played with the boys in the Men’s Senior Team.”
“I have refereed a few men’s games at home and we have a Summer Football tournament on Thursday nights during the last school term of the year. This year we have seven junior teams and two senior teams. We encourage social engagement, every year we have a pizza night for coaches and managers to recognise their contribution. Winton is a great development club. We have seen our players go from Winton to Donald Gray teams in town and we are happy to offer a development pathway. My oldest son and one of the girls from our club have gone onto colleges in the USA, my son is at West Virginia Tech while my youngest plays in the Men’s team which my husband coaches.”
Leeann Duston, President of Queens Park AFC, started playing social summer football in 2009/2010. “I was asked to play in a work team with mates. I then went on to play winter football. I am a netball girl but I was sick of netball so I joined Queens Park and have no regrets. I played for the Queens Park Ladies team. The first year was all about learning the sport and the coach asked me to be Captain in the second year.”
“It was about another 6 years before I joined the committee and I got involved in fundraising and things. I spent three years Junior Coaching and became Vice – President last year. The President at that time was leaving and it was a huge help to spend a year learning off him. He was a very good President and he left big boots to fill. It was good that the club could see the time was coming to fill the role. I became President at the AGM just before last Christmas. It was quite a year to take the reins with definite challenges around Covid-19.”
“It is okay if you have the right team around you. It would be too much for one person. With the Covid situation everyone stepped up and we still had phone meetings and continued our planning. It is rewarding when you get out on a Saturday morning and see everyone playing. Our club is slowly growing and it is great to watch our juniors and youth come through to senior ranks.”
“I never wanted to join committees even when my kids were involved in different activities – it just wasn’t my cup of tea.” What has changed? “I think it is about the people, we are a smallish club, family orientated and they made me feel welcome. I have found something I enjoy and am passionate about.”
I helped Kate Bunting coach the Southland Under 12 Girls team that went to Blenheim and won the South Island Tournament. It was a real highlight and it was really special that both of us came from the Queens Park Club.”
Ange MacKenzie, the President of Old Boys AFC, is a “rugby girl” at heart but since meeting her now husband Scott, she had no choice but to get interested in football. “When we started our relationship, I used to go along and watch him play. I also played a little Monday night Social Football through a friend and work colleague Katy Barker. She did try to get me into Women’s football but after I couple of games it just wasn’t the sport for me, so I never went back”
“In 2016 Scott coached the Donald Gray team and I took on the Manager’s role for the season. That was a lot of fun and they were a great bunch of guys. While I thought that was the end of my involvement with the Club, I went along to the AGM in 2016 and ended up in the Secretary role for two seasons. Then I found myself in the Presidents role. Having been in a Presidents role before for Myross Bush Netball Club I thought I would have some idea what would be involved but it really is on another level being a much larger club and a sport I really didn’t know much about.”
“The 2019 season as President was relatively easy. I wanted to make sure things got done and try some different things from a social perspective and luckily the committee was 100% behind those. The highlight was the reformation of our Women’s team and it’s great that the team are still around this year. 2020 has had its own set of challenges due to Covid-19. Sometimes its like having another full-time job. I have a really good committee behind me though. The Old Boys club has a really strong Junior club and I think that’s crucial for the future. We also have a good social atmosphere and try to hold a few social events every year to bring the club together.”
“One of my challenges,” laughs Ange, “is that I have a toddler, Samuel, and while his father is off playing and coaching, I am running the club bar on Saturday’s so is a bit of a challenge keeping tabs. Last year was much easier but as they grow, they become a little more mobile. I think he will become a permanent feature at the club and no doubt will be involved in the sport.”