Sale United Football Club’s Anouk Meereboer has been named Ally Champion of the Year as part of Football Victoria’s 2023 National Female Football Week Awards.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that in just a matter of weeks, Australia will host to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Something perhaps not so widely recognised, Female Football Week, this year occurred from Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 28.

Launched in 2014 to elevate women and girls and recognise their contribution to football, Female Football Week has become a high point in the nation’s annual football calendar.

This year’s Female Football Week is extra special, falling just weeks before Australia and New Zealand host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

To coincide with the biggest female sporting event in the world landing on Australian shores, #LoveOurGame was named this year’s Female Football Week theme.

The theme #LoveOurGame posed as a celebration of Australian women’s football and encouraged participants to embrace their love for the world game and its positive impacts.

As part of Football Victoria’s celebration of female football in 2023, the statewide governing sporting body established the 2023 National Female Football Week Awards ahead of this year’s Female Football Week.

Sale United Football Club’s Anouk Meereboer is a trailblazer, a former National Premier League player, the first female senior men’s coach in Latrobe Valley Soccer League, the LVSL U18 Boys rep team coach, a dedicated club woman, a voice for women in sport and a true advocate and idol of female football.

Meereboer is also the 2023 National Female Football Week Awards Ally Champion of the Year.

“It feels weird,” Meereboer laughed.

“I feel like so many other people are doing great things as well. It’s not just me. Yes, I might be pushing for these things, but there are so many other people involved in making it happen.

“So I am excited to get it, but on the other side, there are so many other people who should be joining me with this award.

“For example, I started the GO Mums, but Madeline Forbes and Laurel Irvine are doing an awesome job at running it, and I’m just there as a backup now,” she said.

“Same as with coaching the senior men’s, I can’t do it by myself; I’ve got three other great coaches doing it with me.

“It’s the same with so many other things; I just get the random ideas in my head and am like, ‘hey, we should do this, we should do this’, and make it happen, but there are so many other people that make it happen with me.

“We are very lucky to have so many people, good people, around the club that want to promote the sport and want to make the sport bigger.”

Meereboer was named the 2023 National Female Football Week Awards Ally Champion of the Year during this year’s Female Football Week for her unwavering tenacity and commitment to advocating for female football and women in sport.

This dedication to promoting, growing and showcasing female football has led Meereboer to facilitate programs such as GOSevens, GOFives, GOGirls and GOSoccerMums and played an influential part in Gippsports ‘LetUsPlay’ campaign.

Meereboer is a dedicated supporter of junior coaches, is a FA Schools Program deliverer, delivering programs to various primary schools and specialist schools across the region and regularly coaches holiday clinics.

When she isn’t busy coaching SUFC senior men or occupied with the latter, Meereboer coordinates and organises coaching and referee courses, Come and Try Days and various football tournaments.

Through her dedication, passion, nothing is impossible attitude, and the support of one of the regions leading sporting clubs in gender equality, SUFC, Meereboer, has been instrumental in increasing the recognition, participation and involvement of local female football.

Female Football Week has helped to raise the profile of female football and showcase women and girls in football at all levels across Australia, with the week-long celebration acting as a national platform to profile and celebrate women in football and create greater visibility across all areas of the game.

Football Victoria says showcasing women and girls in football is paramount.

“Like many sports, football was traditionally male-dominated, but with hard work, investment and a cultural shift, a transformation has been taking place,” a Football Victoria spokesperson said.

“While we’ve made incredible progress, we are always seeking to improve the landscape and work towards more equity.

The state-wide governing sporting body said football’s greatest female role models are Australia’s women’s National Team, The Matildas, with young players looking up to these players and aspiring to be like them.

“We are seeing a shift as a result of their media exposure which is elevated women in our game,” the Football Victoria spokesperson said.

“We are highlighting the rise of new players, women becoming mothers and the parallel journey when the right environment and support are provided.

“We know women and girls are drawn to clubs that are welcoming; this is based on what can be seen,” the spokesperson added.

“If a club’s social media, club rooms, environment, training and game day are all about the men and boys that play for them, it won’t be the place women and girls will gravitate towards.

In order to attract and retain women and girls in football and sport you can no longer just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk, and it needs to be seen; you need to show that you celebrate equity at your club.”