In celebration of Female Football Week, we are celebrating some of the women who are doing amazing work in our community.
Today we’re looking at Georgie Kokokiris, a football administrator with Marrickville FC who has been involved in football since she was five years old.
Her love affair with the sport started when she was young as her and her sister got hooked on football when they would go watch their father play. That love affair then turned to Sydney Olympic, then in the National Soccer League, where Georgie would follow the club – firstly as a supporter – and then as part of the staff.
At the age of 23, she joined the Supporters Committee at Olympic and held a number of different roles, mainly focussed around match day operations such as organising ball kids and ensuring the teams and ball kids were where they needed to be.
While Georgie’s football career started at the NSL level, it has been at community level where she has done her best work and forged a name for herself as one of Canterbury’s top administrators.
But it was only chance that Georgie ended up at Marrickville: having the good fortune to work next door to Ron Royston in 2008, who was the president of Marrickville at the time.
“I used to help Roy out with some administration work and after a while he knew that I wanted to step away from Sydney Olympic and sensed that I wanted to work at community level,” explained Georgie.
“By the end of my time at Olympic I felt there was something missing. I would look at all the little kids who were dreaming of becoming senior players at Olympic and I wanted to help mould them and help them enjoy their youth football.
“I had an urge to take a step back, go to grassroots football, see where it all begins and to contribute. Roy told me that the Registrar’s position was opening up at the Marrickville committee, so I jumped at the chance.”
As Marrickville grew as a club, so did the Registrar’s role with more and more responsibilities added until five years ago, when it turned into the full-time job it is today: Operations Manager and Managing Director.
Georgie was a trail-blazer when she joined the all-male committee at Marrickville in 2008. That has all changed now with multiple women on the club’s staff – something which has seen a positive shift at Marrickville.
“Having female staff members on board changes the way the club runs: it changed the focus and encourages more women and girls to be involved.
“You can see the number of women being involved as coaches and team managers has increased steadily in the last few years. They believe in themselves and that they can excel in those roles, which is great.
“It was only a few years ago where only dads would put their hands-up for those positions and not there’s a lot more women and even young girls who are coming through and wanting to do it.”
Having women like Georgie in positions of power and influence is extremely important in terms of both inspiration and representation.
For young girls to see women like Georgie in these positions provides inspiration for them to believe in themselves and helps them strive for success in all aspects of their life – and especially in traditionally male-dominated environments.
One notable example is when a girl in a mixed U11 team was considering pulling out of football because there were only two girls in her team: she was enjoying playing but wasn’t sure she was supposed to be in the sport due to so many boys being in her team.
Inspired by Georgie – who showed that women and girls can succeed even if the majority of their peers are male – the girl stayed on the team and, six years later, has gone on to become an NPL player. Not bad for someone who was on the verge of leaving the sport.
For Georgie, it’s having impacts on people’s lives like that which make working in football so fulfilling – and why it’s so important for more women to get involved at club-level.
“It’s stories like that that give me the biggest enjoyment and the biggest satisfaction,” said Georgie.
“The fact she ended up in NPL is not even the most important part of the story. Even if she continued to play community football, it’s the fact that now she believes in herself and knows that she can strive for anything she wants to be whether that be a doctor or a dancer or a football player.
“Simply because saw a woman in a position that is normally filled by a man, she changed her belief in herself to know that she can become whatever she wanted to be.”