When 10 year old Michelle Heyman looked for female athlete inspiration, she really had to search. There were no girl’s football team to play with locally, or professional women’s matches shown on the television. Very rarely could she flip to the sports section of the newspaper and find any female athlete given a voice.
Just over two decades later however and fortunately, things have changed and changed for the better.
Female representation is catching up in both grassroots and professional sport and women’s sports are no longer a stranger to the 6 o’clock news.
But there’s still that drive deep within Heyman, to help young girls navigate the path to professional sport, with someone by their side, who has been through it all before.
That’s where Heyman FC comes in; Michelle’s all-women’s Academy.
“A lot of people ask why are you just making it for women, but for me that’s the big key, it’s because we never had it,” Heyman said.
“I always played in a boys’ team growing up, it was always a male coach, it was always male this and male that.
“I know that we have the right people around us as females, to help the younger generation grow, and rise through the sport.”
The Academy is dedicated to mentoring the female athlete, beyond what you see on the pitch.
“It’s all about inspiring the next generation, having a safe place for them to be able to come, socialise and learn new skills,” Heyman said.
“Being a professional athlete is quite hard both mentally and physically so I want to be able to teach them at a younger age, what to expect.”
“We’re also doing workshops with parents so they can help understand the system and what it takes for an athlete to become a Westfield W-League player.”
Michelle Heyman has long been an advocate for equality and through Heyman FC she hopes everyone is provided an even playing field.
“It’s about pushing that boundary and saying, no women can do it, we can do it all.”