The Daylesford and Hepburn United Soccer Club will take part in the Act@Play program with Women’s Health Grampians to promote gender equality.

Act@Play is a gender equality, cultural change initiative that recognises the power that regional sporting clubs have to influence attitudes and beliefs about what is acceptable behaviour. The program is funded by Hepburn Shire Council and delivered by Women’s Health Grampians (WHG) in partnership with Council.

Mayor, Cr Brian Hood, said that the program aims to develop and deliver culture change programs that support clubs to develop welcoming and inclusive environments for all genders. “This is achieved through education and empowering leaders on and off the field and we’re excited to be working with the soccer club to achieve this.”

“Daylesford and Hepburn United Soccer Club submitted an excellent EOI noting that working in the space of gender equality is a key priority area for the club’s leadership. Their club’s commitment ensures women’s participation and visibility in the club and the game will not be an afterthought, and the club should be commended for that. Their participation in Act@Play is a good and strong fit,” said Cr Hood.

The Soccer Club currently has 166 participants with a wide range of ages. Forty-four percent of the participants are women. The club aims to be inclusive and welcomes both experience and inexperienced participants.

The Club currently fields eight competitive teams. They also host a Women’s Go Football program on Wednesdays at 5:45 pm for women to experience soccer. No experience required.

Renee Smith who coordinates the Women’s Go Football program, said, “Creating a safe, respectful and inclusive culture and playing environment has been a core priority of the Daylesford and Hepburn United Soccer Club for many years. The club is thrilled to be selected to be part of the Act@Play program in 2024 and work alongside Women’s Health Grampians to promote and further embed gender equality outcomes within our club community.

“The Act@Play program is a stepping stone to the club’s recent achievements of 44% female participation for the 2024 season, endorsement of our ’Women and Girls in Football Action Plan’ which resulted in the club being named only the 50th regional club in Australia to receive 1-star ‘Club Changer’ accreditation by Football Australia, and the current development of our Women, Girls and Gender Diverse Participation Policy.”

DHUSC will now commence a six-month intensive program facilitated by WHG. Council, in partnership with WHG and DHUSC, will share outcomes and learnings to inform future development opportunities for other Hepburn Shire sporting clubs.

Funding for the Act@Play program has closed for the current year. For more information, contact the Council’s Sport and Active Recreation Officer on 0484 586 689.