Finding a football club was top of Annelise Rosnell's to-do list when she moved to Newcastle six years ago.
The Yamba 25-year-old knew then, and knows even more now in her role as Northern NSW Football female participation and inclusion officer, the importance such a move would play in providing community support.
The club Rosnell joined was University of Newcastle, where she now plays, coaches and volunteers.
"I've always just played in the community football system and I've made a lot of friends through football and general connections with people," Rosnell said.
"When I first moved to Newcastle in 2015 to go to university, I knew that joining a football club would be important for my social health and having that connectedness within a community. It opens up opportunities to work in football as well, as a volunteer, and just to get to watch the game."
The benefits of being involved in football is one of the messages Rosnell is spruiking this week during NNSWF Female Football Week.
"We want to grow female participation through providing more opportunities than currently exist and creating a space that's better than it was before," Rosnell said.
"A lot of what I think about, especially when we're delivering things for kids, is where I grew up. I never grew up with Miniroos for girls, or all-girls participation, so I think that's important - being able to deliver things that I didn't grow up with as well.
"I don't think that playing in a mixed team was a negative experience but it's important that we keep trying to provide options and opportunity for people to participate."
In celebration of Female Football Week, NNSWF will host a range of events, including school gala days and Kick-On For Women come and try sessions. Kick-On For Women is an introductory program designed for women wanting to try football for the first time or returning to the game after some time off.
There will also be sessions for administrators and a networking evening at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility on Saturday night where the NNSWF Female Football Week Award Winners and the 'C' Licence Scholarship for Women recipients will be announced.
"It's a week to celebrate what women's football has done in the last 12 months and the people that have been part of that change, to celebrate women and girls who are in the community and in our football clubs," Rosnell said.
"We're really encouraging clubs to activate within their communities to celebrate the people within their club and to provide those opportunities like a come and try session or a skills sessions. It's really just getting everyone together to celebrate women's football and women in football."
NNSWF female participation has increased from 24 per cent of overall registrations in 2019 to 27 per cent this year. NNSWF want female player representation to be 35 per cent by 2023 as part of their strategic plan.
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