FEMALE participation numbers in football have increased by almost 25 per cent in the last five years on the Mid-North Coast.
Those numbers have continued on an upward trajectory ahead of the 2021 season kick-off in late March.
Now, Football Mid North Coast chairman Mike Parsons says the next items on the agenda are facilities and equity for both female and male players.
"(Those participation numbers) are really heartening," he said.
"The big thing for us now is the continued focus on infrastructure and making sure our grounds and change rooms have female-friendly facilities which can provide added privacy for women."
Shower screens have now been added to the change rooms at the Taree Zone Field.
"Women's facilities have been substandard for far too long, so moving forward we want to continue that conversation with local government and clubs," Mr Parsons said.
The interest levels in the southern part of the region had exponentially increased with a record number of senior teams signing up for 2021.
"It is early days in terms of registrations and we are probably up to over 3000 players," he said.
"But having come off the back of a quieter year last year with COVID-19, it appears interest levels are back and vaccines are coming on board."
With travel restrictions gradually being lifted, there is a general feeling of relief and a willingness to socialise again as regional Australia starts the road back to a normal way of life.
"We have people wanting to get back to some normality and participate in a team sport because as human beings it is in our nature to be tribal; that's part of society in general," Mr Parsons said.
With Australia and New Zealand set to co-host the 2023 Women's World Cup, now is a perfect time for women to start playing the world game.
"The closer we get to the Women's World Cup we are finding that's been highlighted," Mr Parsons said.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Northern NSW Football and FMNC have expressed an interest in hosting visiting teams to the region for training camps.
"There is a renewed interest in women's football in general and hopefully the Matildas can start playing again shortly," Mr Parsons said.
Meanwhile, Mid Coast head into the 2021 Women's Premier League season on the back of a strong 2020 campaign where they overcame numerous obstacles before missing out on the finals.
They will again push for a finals berth this season.
"First grade were competitive last year and lost a few key players, but they will still look to build their spine up and results last year showed they will be seriously competitive," Mr Parsons said.
"From the under-15s to reserve grade we will be strong and we have to pay tribute to coach Mick Grass and his staff who have done a fabulous job."
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