Wee Waa’s Monique Soutter has been awarded the Nothern Inland Football Newcastle Permanent volunteer of the month for August.
Soutter plays an active role in Wee Waa junior and senior soccer and has been influential in bringing women in the region together to play in several all-women soccer matches.
The Wee Waa local has helped organise three matches in 2019 and has already planned a fourth for the Namoi Soccer League grand final day.
The most recent of those three matches was played on Saturday afternoon with the Imperial Hotel side defeating the Moree team 6-5 in an 11 goal thriller.
Soutter said it was a great privilege to be recognised for the work she has put in.
“It was a great honour and a really big surprise,” said Soutter.
“I wasn’t expecting anything like that.
“The biggest aim of what I’ve been doing is encouraging women to be playing sport in our community.
“It was just a lovely surprise.”
Northern NSW Football senior officer community football Ross Hicks said that volunteers like Soutter were the backbone of community football.
“Clubs simply cannot run without the contribution of people like Monique,”
“It is great to see a local representative being recognised for their ongoing commitment.”
Soutter said that the women’s matches were helping women play soccer in a much more comfortable environment.
“We don’t have a women’s competition in our region,” she said.
“If women want to play in a seniors comp they have to play with the men.
“For a lot of females that is very off-putting, especially for the younger girls.
“When teenagers are eligible to play it becomes a bit confronting that they have to play against grown men, so many just don’t play.
“The idea of these games is to encourage women to keep playing and to have a bit of fun and fitness.
“Now they are able to be a part of the game and feel much more comfortable doing it,” said Soutter.
Each women’s match has seen more ladies come forward for a game and the number of players has increased significantly.
“Each time we always seem to get more women involved in it,” said Soutter.
“Our last game, for example, we had players ranging from 14 to women in their late 50s.
“There were women playing that are obviously very skilled and very well trained.
“Then there was some of us there that were just playing to have a laugh and just to be a part of it.”
Soutter said that the game had allowed women from all over the community to enjoy a day of soccer and break away from their regular activities.
“We’ve been so lucky with all the women on board,” she said.
“There is so much going on at the moment and everyone is so busy, no matter how old you are or what commitments you have, you forget to take some time out for yourself.
“These games have been a great opportunity to focus on your own fitness.
“And it’s also great for your mental and physical health.”
The next women’s match will be played on Saturday, September 21, before the Namoi Soccer League grand final.