Today as part of our Female Football Week we would like to acknowledge Helensburgh Thistles Soccer Club and their raising of money for the Joanne McKay Breast Cancer Foundation.
Gillian Lehn has been involved with the Helensburgh Soccer Club since her eldest child started playing, 16 years ago. During this time, she has been a coach, a manager and a player at various times.
Currently, she has stepped into the President role and has held this role for four years. In addition to this, Gillian also assists with the canteen purchasing and is currently working with their District League teams to facilitate an under 8/9’s skills program.
Before 2021, Lehn has always wanted to do hold a special event for Female Football Week, however, things just never went ahead.
“Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer in late January and commenced 6 months of treatment. As a result of my diagnosis, I wanted to be able to support a local breast cancer foundation and found the Joanna McKay Breast Cancer Foundation, a foundation who had supported some club members in the past,” Gillian said.
“We chose to do a Pink Round being the breast cancer’s colour and held a raffle selling pink sweat bands, raising over $7000.
“We wanted to continue on with our support this year for that specific foundation and another committee member had suggested we do pink socks, so the decision was made to sell and wear pink socks for the 2022 Pink Round.”
This weekend, Helensburgh had planned to hold another raffle, as well as for all teams starting from under 6’s all the way through to District League to wear pink socks. On Saturday afternoon, they had also planned on holding a female coaching clinic for all junior girls to attend too, as well as hosting the whole of the Pink Round.
Unfortunately, due to the uncertainty of the weather, the Pink Round will not be going ahead. Helensburgh will instead hold their fundraiser on another weekend during the season.
Gillian believes that Female Football Week has helped with the female participation in all aspects of the sport, however, does believe that there is always room for continuous improvements.
“As a female club President, I think it is super important to promote women and girls playing football and Female Football Week has helped do exactly that,” she said.
“As a club, we have been working extremely hard over the past 8-10 years to encourage all girls to play football. We have found that most girls preferred to play in an all-girls team, so we now have all female based teams starting from under 6’s through to my team, the over 30’s. This has increased our numbers of female participation and retention.
“Female Football Week is a great initiative, but I do feel as though further promotion could make a massive difference, alongside some more ideas and events for clubs to do themselves.”
Helensburgh Junior Football Club has seen several changes for women in football over the past 5 years.
“20 years ago, we had a huge number of girls playing football however, there was a real drop in numbers when other competing sports made themselves available for all females,” Lehn said.
“But over the last few years, we have certainly seen an increase in numbers. The quality of football being played by the girls is increasing as well as the quality of the coaches.”