Growing up I heard many renditions of the “Braveheart” pre-battle speech. It was inevitable really, my dad is not only English, but a high school history teacher. There was no avoiding it. The final phrase “they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” is one I know well, with my younger brother and dad honing their best Scottish accents through the repetition of the words.
Despite this movie being a massive memory of my teenage years, I’ve never watched it all. But one thing I do know, is old William Wallace was leading a ragtag Scottish army in the name of something they collectively believed in. Freedom.
Braveheart is about how one single person can provide the inspiration and fire for a group of people to fight for what they believe in.
On Thursday night, I met a modern day William Wallace.
During an sunny evening, in the ‘burbs of Launceston, a meeting took place to revive Launceston City’s women’s program. In attendance was a mix of people, as always at football clubs. But the most striking person was a woman called Amy. She’s City’s William Wallace.
For some context, in 2018 Launceston City was one of the strongest clubs in Tasmania’s state league. I have a grin on my face thinking about this side. My first ever match commentating was a game they dominated against the reigning Champions. That’s a moment not to forget, and leaves a soft spot in my heart.
However it all crumbled. Upon the new year, and my timely arrival to the north of the state, Launceston City folded their women’s program. Not enough numbers, not enough interest. Going from two squads to barely one. I remember reeling off names to their 2018 captain, and the answers I received on why they were no longer playing were many, with the end result grim.
It’s an easy line for a club in this situation to say “we’re working on it”. But so often in practical terms, a club will only revive their women’s team if a group of women from another club transfers over, or their junior program has particularly strong senior teams who can be the backbone for the new squad. That rarely happens after one year.
To build something from scratch is difficult. To revive something that once looked so strong from the outside, is a mountain of a task. Only the brave would even consider it, let alone take it on.
That brave person was Amy, who stood in front of a room full of people and simply said words to the effect of “we’re bringing back a women’s team to City in 2020”.
Braveheart was a practical person. He wanted to beat the English army, so the Scots could remain free. The work Amy is doing at City is the same. Practical, gathering people from all sides, young, old and across the board in the name of bringing the team back to life.
It’s safe to say, fresh eyes are needed to look at City’s women’s program.
Hearing “soccer people” complaining about the difficulties our game faces in terms of funding, resources and respect is as pleasant as having teeth pulled out with no anesthetic. Add on another chip on the shoulder with it being “women’s” and the feeling of despair is two fold.
So to have a woman, who is doing this for her daughter, lead the charge is a breath of fresh air that will put City on track to build a solid program. To have a “non-soccer” person, pressing and at the helm of change might just be the recipe to create a club that could be once again the envy of the state, with even stronger foundations.
Seeing Amy present a practical approach of what’s needed to get the team off the ground, calling on one and all to be involved and bringing in the right people to see that happen is a Braveheart move if I’ve ever seen one.
With this, I have two requests for Launceston City.
Firstly, build women up to take up roles of coaching, reffing, management and everything in between. Build women up, treat them well and your fears on things such as having referees at matches or wondering where you’re going to find the coaching staff, will be solved. People will demand to be involved with your club and the women’s program.
Secondly, keep your Braveheart people around and listen to them. This meeting is evidence that you’re already doing this. So please, don’t stop doing so.
It’s Thursday’s moment, in a club room in Prospect, with a woman at the front of a room saying “we’re going to bring back City for 2020” that will be looked back on like William Wallace’s speech before battle. It’s this moment that will provide the foundation for a thriving club. How exciting.