Its been a week of big stories in the women’s game in Australia as Lisa De Vanna and others lifted the lid on abuse and bullying within the game. Elsewhere, we hear from 11 signings announced in the A-League Women and the six clubs. Ben Gilby has all the news.
Lisa De Vanna and Rhali Dobson Lift Lid On Abuse and Bullying
Above: Lisa De Vanna has revealed some appalling experiences she suffered throughout her career. Photo: Molly Darlington/Getty Images.
In an article published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, Australia legend Lisa De Vanna made explosive allegations of indecent assault, sexual harassment, bullying and grooming within Australian soccer.
Within the article, De Vanna said:
“There needs to be consequences. There needs to be accountability. I have seen cultural problems at all levels throughout the years – from men and women – and girls coming through need to be brave, and also the girls that have been through this also need to be brave and know they are not alone.
“It’s a sensitive topic and it takes a brave and courageous person to speak up. Have I been sexually harassed? Yes. Have I been bullied? Yes. Ostracised? Yes. Have I seen things that have made me uncomfortable? Yes.”
She then details one experience from 2001 when she was 17 years-old with the Young Matildas when several of her team-mates pulled her down to the ground – an incident witnessed by former Matilda Elissia Carnavas who has spoken publicly this week to support De Vanna’s experiences.
In the same article, another former W-League star Rhali Dobson also revealed that she was the target of “predatory behaviour.”
The full Sydney Daily Telegraph article can be read via this link: https://twitter.com/telegraph_sport/status/1445309596231294976
Football Australia issued a statement in response to the allegations, stating:
“Australian football takes a zero-tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game. To that end, we encourage anyone to bring forward their concerns through Football Australia’s formal complaints process under the Member Protection Framework, with the knowledge that any such matter will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.
“While it is not appropriate to discuss individual cases, we have met with Lisa De Vanna and heard her grievances, and can confirm that the specific allegations made public were not raised with us in that meeting. We have no knowledge of what steps, if any our predecessor organisation, Soccer Australia, undertook in 2001. In the event that Lisa chooses to lodge a formal complaint through the appropriate channels, we will be in a position to investigate and, if appropriate, act accordingly. The same process is open to Rhali Dobson and other former players and staff to formally bring forward any claims.
“Over and above Football Australia’s formal complaints handling protocols, we have also been engaging with Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) to develop an additional process for independently investigating allegations of a historical nature as they relate to former players and staff – such as Lisa and Rhali. We will announce the joint initiative with SIA once the details have been finalised.”
The full statement from Football Australia can be read here: https://www.footballaustralia.com.au/news/statement-football-australia-re-allegations-historical-player-misconduct
A-LEAGUE WOMEN SIGNING NEWS:
Jets Announce Key Retention of Taren King and Signing Of Young Keeper:
Defender Taren King has re-signed for Newcastle Jets ahead of the upcoming 2021/22 A-League Women’s Season.
King returns to the Club after featuring in all 12 matches last season in what was her first with the Jets after joining from Canberra United.
The 24-year-old has made 34 appearances in the A-League Women’s competition, and Coach Ash Wilson believes her experience will prove vital.
“It’s pleasing to be able to re-sign Taren this season,” Wilson said.
“She is an experienced defender who reads the game well and has a competitive mentality. Her leadership qualities, on and off the pitch, have been asset to the team environment, and she will bring further stability to our back line, enabling us to build on principles and partnerships as we work toward achieving our goals.”
King said; “I’m excited to continue the journey as a group and see what we can achieve this year. I’ve returned to the Club this season because I feel as though we showed some really positive glimpses at times but never really got into our full stride.
“I’m hoping to get a positive season of football under my belt again, and make some improvements in my personal game.”
Newcastle Jets further strengthened their squad with the signing of young goalkeeper Georgia Boric on Thursday.
Boric has represented Australia as part of the Junior Matildas and has previously spent time as part of Canberra United but has yet to make her league debut.
The 23-year-old is excited for the challenge. “The opportunity to compete for a position in the A-League Women’s competition is really exciting to me,” Boric said.
“I’m excited to step back into the professional scene and push myself outside my comfort zone. I hope to make my debut in the league, and to add to the team environment and culture, driving my teammates to work as a unit and reach our goals.”
Coach Ash Wilson spoke of her anticipation to see the young goalkeeper join the squad. “Georgia is an exciting prospect having going through the National Youth system. As well as having desirable technical qualities, she is motivated to achieve and loves a challenge. We expect her to bring that to the team and football environment.”
Reds Sign Shay Evans:
Adelaide United have signed forward Shadeene ‘Shay’ Evans for the forthcoming A-League Women 2021/22 season.
A product of the famous John Moriarty Football initiative, who are charity partners of Impetus, (see https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/official-charity/) Evans has also been a member of the Future Matildas and has represented the Young Matildas.
The 20-year-old Marra woman made her A-League Women debut with Sydney FC in January 2019 and scored her first goal the following season against Melbourne Victory.
Evans has spent the offseason in the NSW Women’s National Premier League with Northern Tigers where she has netted five goals in 12 appearances.
Speaking about joining the Club, Evans, said: “It means a lot to me to be playing for Adelaide United. I’ve been training hard and can’t wait to get on the pitch with my new teammates and have a fantastic season.
“I’m proud as well of the special connection between Adelaide and my mentor, John Moriarty. I’m excited to be moving forward with my football career at a time when women’s football is growing so much around the world especially in the lead up to the Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand.”
Adelaide United’s A-League Women Head Coach, Adrian Stenta, said: “Shay is one of the most promising players in the country. She has some experience in the A-League Women competition before, as well as with the Young Matildas, and will add quality to our final third.
“We’re delighted to have her join the squad and I believe she can have a breakout year for us because of her determined mindset.”
Born in Borroloola, a remote community in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory, Evans was the inaugural scholarship recipient of John Moriarty Football (JMF), Australia’s most successful and longest-running Indigenous football initiative. JMF was co-founded by Yanyuwa man John Moriarty, the first Indigenous footballer selected to play for Australia.
Moriarty said: “Shay began training with us when she was just 12 years old and playing football barefoot on the school oval in our program. Our coaches could immediately see she had natural talent and a love of the game.
“Scouted by former Matildas coach, Alen Stajcic, Shay won her JMF scholarship to Sydney at 14 to study at Westfields Sports High School and undertake intensive football training and mentorship.
“She has worked hard to graduate from Year 12 and play in the A-League Women, as well as serve as Vice Captain of the Young Matildas. She won a scholarship to study at the University of New South Wales and we’re thrilled she is now signing with Adelaide United.
“This is a perfect next step in Shay’s football career and we are immensely proud of her.”
Moriarty has a special connection with the Adelaide football community. Moriarty’s football career began with South Australian First Division teams Port Thistle, Port Adelaide, and Adelaide Juventus, as well as a summer season with Adelaide Croatia. He represented South Australia 17 times and is recognised in the Football Australia Hall of Fame.
Victory Announce Goalkeeping Duo:
Melbourne Victory have revealed the identities of their goalkeepers for the new season after re-signing Casey Dumont and Melissa Maizels ahead of the 2021/22 A-League Women’s season.
Dumont returns to the squad for the upcoming campaign after spending 2020/21 on the sidelines with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The two-time A-League Women’s Champion has made over 103 appearances in the league, notching 35 clean sheets in her domestic career and playing a crucial role in the Club’s 2018/19 Championship season.
Maizels has also re-committed to the Club for the upcoming season with the goalkeeper deputising to Gaby Garton during the 2020/21 Championship campaign.
A-League Women’s Head Coach Jeff Hopkins said he was delighted to lock in his goalkeeping stocks for his side’s title defence.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Casey back to the squad for the upcoming season and know she will bring a level of experience and leadership we will need to go back-to-back,” Hopkins said.
“She was with us every step of the way last season and to have her back on the pitch – leading our defensive line – will be invaluable to us and the goals we have set this year.”
Dumont was also excited to be returning to the squad after making a full recovery.
“Watching from the sidelines last season was tough for me but I was proud of what the team accomplished and I have the hunger to achieve even more success with the squad this season,” Dumont said.
“Jeff and his team have supported me since I arrived at the Club and to be back between the sticks for Melbourne Victory shows the faith they have in me to deliver on the pitch.”
Melbourne Victory will continue their pre-season preparations ahead of the Round 1 clash against Adelaide United on Sunday 5 December.
Crofts Heads For Western Sydney:
Western Sydney Wanderers confirmed the signing of midfielder Ashlie Crofts for the upcoming A-League Women’s campaign.
Crofts made her debut in the domestic competition in 2019 where she scored on her debut with Canberra United.
The agile midfielder has spent the last two seasons in the nation’s capital and is this season set to play for her hometown club for the first time in her career after plying her trade at Blacktown Spartans for close to ten years.
Head coach Catherine Cannuli welcomed the Western Sydney local to the club. “Ashlie is a very proud Western Sydney girl and we’re delighted to welcome her to the club,” said Cannuli.
“Having watched Ashlie during her time at both Canberra and Spartans, we know what she can bring to the team this season and she understands how important it is to represent our region and community.”
Crofts said she was delighted to play for the club she has passionately supported over the years. “Western Sydney is my home, I’ve grown up here, played my junior football in the BDSFA competition and have played for Blacktown Spartans for almost ten years. I had a Wanderers membership and went to watch the team every week at the old Pirtek Stadium.
“There is still plenty for me to learn, especially off some of the older, more experienced players. But as a local, I’m hoping to bring a sense of community and what it means to represent Western Sydney to the club.
“Cath (head coach Catherine Cannuli) is a coach that I’ve always wanted to work with and I’m just excited to get started.”
Roar Add Two More To Squad:
Brisbane Roar has brought in two further players with the announcement of prolific forward Meaghan McElligott and defender Jessie Rasschaert.
Versatile Western Pride captain McElligott returns to the top tier of Australian football after spending a season with Canberra United in 2018. Having starred locally for the likes of Gold Coast United, Souths United and Logan Lightning before and after that experience, McElligott said she had long targeted a chance to pull on the orange shirt.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play for Brisbane, being the Queensland side,” McElligott said.
“Having played up here for six or seven years in the NPL, it’s a whole new level of pride to play for Brisbane Roar and definitely something I always wanted. When Garrath [McPherson] offered me the opportunity it was a no-brainer. I’m super excited and keen to play alongside girls that I know, and I think it’s a really exciting time.
“It’s cool to see the local talent get rewarded and hopefully we can use that Queensland focus to our advantage.”
Appointed captain at Ipswich-based Pride this season, McElligott has scored 18 goals across all competitions including five in the club’s run to the Kappa Women’s Super Cup final.
“This season being captain out at Pride has taught me a bunch of leadership skills I probably didn’t know I had in me. I’ve really enjoyed the position I have out there,” she said.
“I definitely think there are things now that will just come naturally to me. In a team environment, everyone can be a leader in their own way. I’m keen to bring my own flair but I’m sure there are other people who can lead the team in different ways.”
Head Coach McPherson said: “Meaghan has been scoring dozens of goals each year in the NPL Women’s competition. She has a killer instinct in front of goal that has previously been acknowledged with involvement on the national stage.
“The staff are all really excited to work with Meaghan, supporting her in taking her game to the next level this season.”
Jessie Rasschaert has signed on for the upcoming campaign after spending the past two seasons with her hometown team Canberra United.
The centre-back relocated to Queensland earlier this year and quickly established herself as one of the state’s premier players through consistent performances for Gold Coast United, culminating in a call from Roar Head Coach Garrath McPherson.
“I was pleasantly surprised when Garrath got in touch,” Rasschaert said.
“Moving from Canberra to the Gold Coast and settling into a new side, a new NPL competition, was a bit daunting but I think I’ve found my feet. This opportunity now is a fantastic chance for me to grow as a player and be part of a team that has established itself in past seasons as being really strong and competitive. I always strive to do my best and improve, and I’m excited to be part of the team.”
Rasschaert, a former NPL Women’s Player of the Year in the ACT, joins Gold Coast team-mate Ayesha Norrie on the Roar roster for the 2021/22 season.
Roar head coach Garrath McPherson said: “I am excited to have a player of Jessie’s experience join our backline for the upcoming season. She is a tall, mobile defender who has who has been one of the standout performers in the NPL Women’s competition since moving here from Canberra.
“Her positivity and winning attitude will have a great impact on our environment and we are all looking forward to seeing her get started with her team-mates in just under three weeks’ time.”
McPherson’s side will come together for the first time on Monday, 25 October as they build towards the Round 1 clash with Perth Glory on 4 December.
Canberra Add Three More:
Canberra United have unveiled goalkeeper Beth Mason-Jones plus Alexia Karrys-Stahl and Mikayla Vidmar for the upcoming A-League Women’s (ALW) season.
Mason-Jones joins Canberra with three years of experience in the ALW, playing for Melbourne Victory from 2016-2019. After taking 15 months away from the game for personal reasons, Beth signed with Victorian NPLW club Alamein United FC in early 2021.
Beth said she can’t wait to get stuck into the Canberra United preseason from October 25.
“I’ve always heard great things about Canberra as a team; the girls, the fans, the environment overall,” Beth said.
“Watching them over the past few seasons I’ve really noticed the fight they have for each other as a team which is something I really value and find really rare. I’m really looking forward to the new challenge ahead.
“Having a fresh slate to work with, a bunch of new players I haven’t ever played with, a new coach and a new training and playing environment is very enticing to me.”
On Thursday, the club added the signings of former Canberra United Academy players, Alexia Karrys-Stahl and Mikayla Vidmar for the upcoming A-League Women’s season.
Mikayla Vidmar has football in the blood. The daughter of former Socceroo legend Tony Vidmar, Mikayla joined Woden Valley SC when she was 12, before being selected into the Canberra United Academy Program. Mikayla has been playing for Adelaide City for two years now and was part of their 2019 Premiership winning team. She has been in excellent form once more this season.
“Being part of the Canberra United Academy, we would always watch the Canberra United games,” Mikayla said.
“We had some girls in the academy who were also in and out of Canberra United, training and playing so they were always girls we looked up to. The environment and atmosphere at the games has always been incredible.
“The support and unity you feel is like nothing else, and it has always been something I wanted to be a part of.”
Alexia Karrys-Stahl also grew up playing in Canberra, with Gungahlin United and the Capital Football SAP Program. She represented the ACT in the PSSA, before being selected into the Canberra United Academy. From there, she was selected into the U17s Young Matildas, for the AFC Championship qualifiers in Malaysia.
“It has always been a goal of mine to represent my home town,” Alexia said.
“The atmosphere is like no other and to score in front of my family and friends would be unreal.
“I’m excited to play with so many familiar faces as well as some new ones. I can’t wait to work with Vicki and all the other CU staff, it’s an absolute privilege.”