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Australia’s first worldwide aim of ladies’s soccer was scored by Sandra Brentnall in boots that did not match her


In 1979 at Seymour Park in Sydney, 17-year-old Sandra Brentnall kicked Australia’s first worldwide aim in girls’s soccer.

It was the primary take a look at match towards New Zealand, with hundreds in attendance, and Brentnall was sporting boots that have been two sizes too massive, full of newspaper.

“They have been low cost plastic boots from Goal,” Brentnall mentioned.

“We did not have some huge cash; we have been simply grateful to have boots.”

A grainy film photograph of a teenage woman in gold and green with her foot on a soccer ball

Brentnall in 1978, 4 years after her household emigrated from the UK. (Provided: Sandra Brentnall )

Brentnall does not keep in mind the precise particulars of the historic aim, however she does keep in mind the joy of her workforce.

“I fell on the ground as a result of they have been all hugging me. I used to be solely small,” Brentnall mentioned.

“Our massive defender simply picked me up by the again of my shirt and put me on my toes.”

Brentnall was taking part in for the workforce that will go on to turn into Australia’s beloved Matildas – identified again then merely as “the Australian facet”.

Kicked out for ‘being a woman’

Born within the UK, Brentnall was the captain of her childhood soccer workforce in Nottingham, till, at eight years previous, she was kicked out for “being a woman”.

“In England, there was no girls’s soccer in any respect, so I performed with the boys on a Saturday,” she mentioned.

Brentnall mentioned she was devastated to be faraway from the workforce.

“You are taking part in the sport that you just love and stay and breathe for, after which subsequent week, you have obtained nothing.”

Brentnall’s father, as soon as a semi-professional participant himself, was decided his daughter’s expertise could be recognised and moved the household to Australia in 1974.

“It will need to have been enormous for mum and pa to try this, to uproot and take three youngsters throughout the opposite facet of the world,” Brentnall mentioned.

“And it was heartbreaking in a way, as a result of my dad went to quite a few golf equipment and after they noticed me, they nonetheless mentioned ‘No, you are too small’.”

It could take till Brentnall had turned 14 and grown a couple of inches, however ultimately, she was picked up by the Inglewood United Soccer Membership girls’s workforce.

Sandra Brentnall stands in front of an old photo of herself

Brentnall visits the exhibition on the WA State Library.  (Provided )

From road video games to worldwide soccer

From there, Brentnall mentioned it “all opened up”.

“There was no grading, no juniors, only one stage – girls – and I by no means appeared again,” she mentioned.

“I believed in myself, believed within the workforce, and earlier than it, I used to be taking part in at the next stage, after which the final word stage, which was the Australian facet.”

Brentnall had been hand-picked and coached by Peter Dimopoulos, who’s remembered as one of many driving forces behind the Western Australia’s Ladies’s Soccer Affiliation.

Feminine soccer gamers within the highlight 

With the Ladies’s World Cup kicking off on residence soil subsequent week, Brentnall’s story is one in every of many featured in a brand new oral historical past assortment on the State Library of Western Australia.

State Library supervisor of heritage and engagement David Craddock mentioned the gathering celebrated the pioneers of ladies’s soccer.

“For no matter motive, culturally, this story hasn’t been collected, or instructed,” Mr Craddock mentioned.

“For the previous few months, we have been digesting and researching eight girls and their tales of resilience.”

One other of these girls is Marilyn Learmont, who was the primary feminine referee from WA to run the road within the males’s Nationwide Soccer League.

A black and white photo of a young woman in front of a newspaper article headline: Marilyn is just one of the guys

Marilyn Learmont was ultimately recognised for her expertise as a referee. (Provided )

Learmont, who hadn’t performed a recreation of soccer herself, was motivated to be taught to referee when her husband was finding out to turn into one.

“I used to be serving to him examine, and I mentioned it was simple, so he mentioned to me, ‘If it is easy, you go and do it’,” Learmont mentioned.

“I obtained the ebook out and I went the following time the exams have been there, and I handed the primary time.”

Learmont mentioned she thought the additional data concerning the recreation “could be good” as a result of her boys performed, however she did not assume she’d really referee.

“I did it as a joke, actually, however it grew to become a 20-year profession.”

Learmont went on to turn into the primary lady on the earth to referee a B-class worldwide recreation.

“It was Australia [vs] Brazil, under-19s. No different feminine had finished that, at that stage,” she mentioned.

From sideline abuse, to requests for ‘the girl referee’

Learmont copped it from the sidelines for being a girl.

“I used to be instructed to go residence and do my dishes, go and do my knitting. That I belonged behind the sink,” she mentioned.

Learmont mentioned issues improved as soon as folks realised she was good on the job.

“After which I would get requested to do the video games and once I did Nation Week, they’d all come out from Kalgoorlie and Albany [and say] ‘Oh, can now we have the girl referee?'”

Learmont used to carry her boys to the video games she refereed.

“I put a blanket subsequent to the fence the place I used to be refereeing with a little bit case with meals they usually’d simply sit there, good as gold,” Learmont mentioned.

“A lady has to show themselves that they will do it.

Black and white photo of Marilyn Learmont and other referees

Learmont says she copped plenty of abuse from the sidelines in her 20-year profession. (Provided)

“And when you walked on the market with that whistle, you knew you needed to management 22 males, so you bought it finished.”

Sport Modifications: Trailblazing tales from WA girls in soccer is on on the WA State Library from July 14 – August 28.



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