By Eamonn Flanagan

“It has taken some time, but the women and the men, juniors and seniors, Outdoor and Futsal (Indoor football) are now all under one umbrella. We're all pulling together,” she told

Over 16,000 players kicked-off the junior season in Canberra on the weekend. Some will be playing for points, but most will take part simply for the enjoyment.

Football has come a long way in Canberra; in Australia.

“People say the World Cup gave the game a huge boost, and it probably did, but our numbers have being increasing every year since 2002. We’ve worked hard to increase the transition from juniors to seniors and it has paid off. The Under 18 women’s league alone has jumped this year from 5 to 10 teams."

For Reid football was always the game of choice.

“The first football games I saw were between men on the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme. People from England, Australia, Croatia, Serbia, Italy and Greece all played football on their day off. Dad worked on the Snowy scheme, and that’s where I learned the game. Funny, I can remember one old Aussie going off to his car to listen to Rugby League on the radio, but everyone else was playing football.

“I love how our sport brings all people of all cultures together, and for me Capital Football does just that."

Football wasn’t always so united. Socceroo Johnny Warren’s book Sheilas Wogs and Poofters tells of a game alienated from mainstream Australia. Divisions within the old Soccer Australia and the State Federations severely restricted the growth of the game.

Following the Crawford Report in 2003 sweeping changes were introduced to football administration in Australia. Reid, former CEO of Women’s Soccer Australia was appointed to lead Capital Football.

“What could a women bring to the men’s game? That’s what I was asked at interview. I did wonder if a man would have been asked the reverse.”

The interviewing board obviously hadn’t read her CV closely enough.

Reid has given twenty-five years service to the game. She was involved in the first women’s competition at the Australian National University in the 70’s. She’s coached, managed, played, and represented the ACT in its first women’s representative side. She has management expertise and a steely resilience.

“I’ve been to twenty national championships, international competitions and have contacts across the world, across all sports,” she said.

“The only thing I haven’t done is refereed!”

Reid is delighted with the strong leadership from Football Federation Australia under President Frank Lowy.

“It was exactly what the game needed and all States have now come on board.”

“Our mission at Capital Football is to increase enjoyment of the World Game. The World Game for life, that’s what we are really saying.

"Whatever level you play, its enjoyment and participation first. We have more players registered in Canberra than Rugby League, Union and AFL put together.

"We don’t have a mission to increase our player base."

But Reid acknowledges there is still work to be done.

“We’ve applied for Capital FC to join the New South Wales State league. This would mean elite teams from under-14 boys to seniors playing in the NSW league. It would give a pathway to the A-League for our boys.”

“The women also need a national league and this is something the Football Federation Australia are working towards."

“Sure, we want an A-League team in Canberra,” she continued.

"There is a group planning for the future, but it’s still early days. The FFA has clearly said that any A-League franchise must be privately funded. Frank Lowy would like a team in Canberra sooner rather than later but the FFA board are less keen.”

“We aim to build relationships with other A-League sides. Sydney FC are coming for a pre-season game against the Central Coast Mariners, and the Mariners will be playing local side Belconnen United in a pre-season friendly.”

Reid smiles as she acknowledges the fight the code has had to get recognised in the Australian media.

“We don’t always get the coverage we deserve but it is getting better.”

Heather Reid is a professional, a volunteer, and a fan. Now the season has started, you’ll see Reidy, as she’s affectionately known, around the grounds, out and about on ovals all over Canberra.

Capital Football is fortunate to have a leader with the passion and desire to take the game forward.