Empowering women and girls through community sport

21 September 2023

It’s been a monumental year for women’s sports. More than 11 million people worldwide watched the Matildas make history in the Women’s World Cup semi-final, capturing hearts and going further than any Australian team has gone before. One thing is certain – more women than ever are being inspired to get involved in sport.  

While international sport is inspiring women and girls to take to the field, the City of Melbourne is empowering them delivering inclusive clubrooms like the newly completed redevelopment of Brens Pavilion at Royal Park, which features changerooms for all teams and an inviting social space to bring clubs together.

It’s a welcome change that means women’s teams now have the space to get changed at the ground, creating more capacity for the expansion of women’s sport.  

Fair Access survey

We’re exploring ways to improve opportunities for women, girls and others to participate in community sport and recreation. Have your say by 13 October.

Talea Loeskow from Melbourne University Rugby Football Club and Alice Fiddyment from University High School – Victoria University Amateur Football Club are two athletes whose lives have been transformed by the magic of team sport and the sense of community that comes with it.  

Lord Mayor Sally Capp and Councillor Dr Olivia Ball with Talea and Alice

Talea, whose father was the rugby chairman in her town growing up, sought out team sports again after high school to meet new people.  

“I moved to Melbourne five years ago and wanted to make some friends. What better way to do that than to join a rugby club! The moment you join the team, that’s instantly 14 new mates that are always on the field with you,” Talea said.  

She heard about the club through a friend, whose stories of meeting amazing people and making memories encouraged her to give it a go. Talea joined the Melbourne University Rugby Football Club four years ago and never looked back.  

As Talea explains, positions are particularly important in rugby as each player has a unique set of skills. Everyone then comes together to form the dream team.  

“My favourite thing about rugby as a team sport is that everyone has a very specific role to play to achieve a positive outcome. Everyone is really relying on each other to do their job and ensure that not only do we get a win, but that we keep each other safe and motivated,” Talea said. 

For Talea and her team, the new Brens Pavilion has truly become a place to call home.  

“The new building has all the space and facilities we’ve really been needing,” Talea said.  

The City of Melbourne’s $6.9 million redevelopment of the pavilion features several major upgrades, including eight gender-neutral and accessible changerooms, including toilets and showers, a first aid room, and improved kitchen and social spaces.  

University High School Victoria University Amateur Football Club athletes Abbey Mills, Bridget Healey and Niamh McFadden in the new change rooms at Brens Pavilion

“Now we feel like the space is truly ours. The facilities are of a really high quality – we have our own change rooms and a place to keep our stuff safe. You can come back from a game, freshen up and have a shower and hopefully get ready to celebrate a win with your mates,” Talea said.

After a hiatus from footy since graduating high school, Alice has found a welcoming community in the University High School – Victoria University Amateur Football Club.

She met one of her now fellow teammates at a North Melbourne footy game, who invited her to join at the start of last year, and the rest is history. For Alice, a team sport like footy is all about community, connection and uplifting one another.  

“We support each other through the highs and lows. When we win, we celebrate together, and when we lose, we pick each other up and dust ourselves off, reminding each other we can do better the next game. You’re never alone in those moments, you’ve always got your team around you and it’s amazing,” Alice said.  

 The Brens Pavilion plays a crucial part in team bonding moments that stick with athletes for a lifetime.   

Brens Pavilion
The new Brens Pavilion from the outside

“The facility has created such an opportunity, especially for women, to not only come and play our games, but for everyone to come together. We all love hanging around the pavilion – you can get ready, shower, and stay back to support other teams in comfort, rather than having to go home and then come back,” Alice said.  

“On Thursday nights we come in and have dinner together as a club, it’s a chance for everyone to catch up and have a chat, it’s these moments that really bond us. The pavilion also creates opportunities to welcome new people and encourage newcomers to join our clubs.

“We now have a connection with the Flemington Juniors – some of the girls come and help out in the canteen when we’ve got home games. Some of them are aging out of the junior league and want to come and join us next year.”

Athletes at Brens Pavilion
University High School Victoria University Amateur Football Club player Abbey Mills and Melbourne University Rugby Football Club player Olina Parrish in front of the pavilion

Having a base for community, connection and gathering allows the women’s and men’s teams to learn a lot from each other, and everyone’s a better player for it.

For Talea, Alice and so many other women who participate in community sport, Brens Pavilion has become a social hub and represents the heart of the community in the City of Melbourne.  

Open day

To celebrate the opening of the new Brens Pavilion, we’re hosting a community open day at 11am on Saturday 21 October 2023. Drop by to explore the facilities and learn how you can get involved in local sport. To learn more, visit Brens Pavilion.

To get active and find a sports facility or recreation centre near you, visit Sports and recreation

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21 September 2023
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