A pioneer for women in football, Heather Reid has forged the way for female footballers not only in Canberra but across the country.
From starting Canberra’s first female football club as well as the ACT Women’s Soccer Association, becoming the first female CEO of Capital Football and playing an instrumental role in Canberra United’s inclusion in the W-League, Heather Reid has shattered the glass [grass] ceiling on many occasions.
In 1978, ANU Women’s Soccer Club was born, the big plan brewed over a few quiet beers at the pub between Heather, Clare McGrath, Steph Quinn, June Andersen, Andrea Hotchkiss and Cass Hampton.
“It was largely because there were a lot of women working at the university, who wanted to play in a lunch time competition called the Purple Shin competition,” Heather told Capital Football.
“These women were softballers primarily in the summer and they just had this desire to run and kick a ball around.
“Some of the women asked us if we wanted to put a team together. We then approached the ACT Junior League and I think we had a ten-team competition together and it just went from there.”
A year later, she helped form the ACT Women’s Soccer Association, where she worked to improve and promote the women’s game.
Image: Courtesy of ANUW FC
In 2004, she was appointed CEO of the ACT Soccer Federation (trading as Soccer Canberra), the first female to be at the helm of a State Member Federation.
One of her first tasks in this new role, was to amalgamate four different football associations in the ACT, into one peak body now known as Capital Football.
“That was a really tough thing to do because for me it meant putting the ACT Women’s Soccer Association to bed,” Heather said.
“It was an organisation that I helped form and then 20, 30 years later, we were having to wind it up…
“Now though, I think we can proudly say that the women’s game is bigger and stronger and more popular than ever, who would have thought back in 1979 that we’d be where we are now.”
As Capital Football CEO, Heather Reid worked hard to obtain the licence for Canberra United to be part of the W-League in 2008, with the club going on to win two Championships, three Premierships and propel several players onto the national and international stage. At the time, unlike the A-League management structures, it was State Federations and linkages to national training centre programs like the Institutes / Academies of Sport that ran the W-League clubs.
Under her management, Kanga Cup grew to a tournament with over 300 teams, while the annual Futsal Championships ACT was also put on the map.
In 2016, after holding the top job for 12 years, Heather announced she was stepping down as CEO.
Since then, she has been a mentor and administration instructor on FIFA’s women’s leadership program, been a member of the Football Australia Board, a Director of Women Onside and co-authored a book on female football in the 1970’s called “Women in Boots”.
What started as a group of young women wanting to have a run around, has now grown into almost eight thousand females participating in Community Leagues and NPL in the ACT and surrounding region.
President of ANUWFC Laura Sant’Ana said it’s an absolute honour to be part of a club with such rich history that has done so much for the Canberra footballing community.
“We hear about Heather all the time, and it’s a pleasure to be able to talk to her and hear the stories about how the club started,” Laura said.
“Our club has 11 teams, close to 200 players and close to 330 came to our trials.
“It’s an honour to be in the biggest and oldest female football club in Canberra.”