The Gap Women’s Soccer History
By Rob Askew
Club stalwarts will tell you that women’s soccer has been played at the club before but the current incarnation started in 1993. In late 1992 a group of women interested in playing for fun, fitness and social reasons and a prospective coachorganised a meeting with The Gap Pastime Committee to propose the formation of a women’s football team.Sue Tehan, Jenny Verhoevan, Debbie Gillick, Michelle Peille and Rob Askew were the driving force and after overcoming a few hurdles agreement was reached and the first team was formed and women’s football was reborn at The Gap.
Nineteen-ninety-three was the first season of competition. The team started in the 5th division, which at the time was the 2nd lowest division in Brisbane. The team was a contrasting mix of first time players ranging from 30 something mums to school aged players and included at least two mother daughter teams. From this team players such as Michelle Fielding, Shay Johnson and Kathy Dimitrova all went on to play Premier League for The Gap. Michelle Fielding and Shay Johnson were both Premier League captains.. The inaugural Gap women’s soccer team achieved highly in its first season eventually finishing 2nd in the league and going on to win the Grand Final 1-0 against Jimboomba a feat which was to be repeated in 1994. This initial success inspired many of the players and targets were set. The goal established at the end of the 1993 season was to win promotion to the top division as soon as possible. Promotion was achieved in successive seasons and in 1997 The Gap entered a team in what was the first Brisbane Women’s Premier League competition.
In 2011 they are the only club to have played in their own right in every season of the current Premier League. Along the way The Gap has established itself as the premier Women’s football club and the most consistent force in the Premier League. The club’s high standards have been achieved through the club’s focus on player development, professionalism, first class coaching and the provision of good facilities and equipment.
The Gap fielded its first junior all girls side in 1996. It was an under 14 team coached by former Queensland and Premier League player Mark Gilbert. By 1999 we were fielding multiple teams in under 12s as well as an under 14 team, an under 16 team and a reserve grade and Premier league team that contained many players that were 16 or under. In 2008 we fielded a record number of teams including two under 14s and 16s an under 12s, a social team and a reserve grade and Premier League team. Since 1996 The Gap have consistently been one of the biggest women’s soccer clubs in Queensland based on playing numbers.
The focus on youth development has been highly successful for the club in terms of on field results since the Gap entered the Premier League. We have been consistently among the big teams of Brisbane Women’s soccer. In our first season in Premier League both reserve grade and the Premier League side made the finals and since 2000 we have played in every Premier League finals campaign. Our greatest achievements have been the 2004 Undefeated Premier League Premiership, the 2007 Grand Final Win and the 2008 Grand Final Win. In this decade The Gap has participated in five of the eight Grand Finals. The Reserve Grade is a similar tale of success. The Reserve Grade has played in every finals series with the exception of 1998 since we entered the Premier League competition winning Grand Finals in 1999 and 2000. Our Premier Youth/Under 16 team is similarly successful having competed in six Premier Youth competitions and played in four Grand Finals winning three in 2003, 2005 and 2008. Gap teams have won numerous Grand Finals and premierships in under 12s, 14s, and 16s competitions. Our social team also won the Premiership in 2004 and the Grand Final in 2006.
The level of success in terms of on field results that Gap women’s teams have achieved is admirable, however it is not by such results that the club judges itself. Of greater importance is the success of our individual young players. Players in Gap teams are taught to play, not to win and winning is a product of good football. Numerous Gap players have gone on to earn scholarships with the QAS including Pam Grant, Ellen Beaumont, Krystina Walker, Leah Curtis, Elissia Canham, Kate Wensley, Kristie Cummins, Courtnet Beutel and Ruth Blackburn. Such a high representation is a credit to our club. Several Gap players have also represented their country including Pam Grant who played at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Gap was represented at the 2004 Youth World Cup by Ellen Beaumont and the 2002 Youth World Cup by Elissia Canham. Current players who are representing their country include Ruth Blackburn, Ellen Beaumont and Courtney Beutel. A significant indicator of our success has been the high representation of Gap players in Queensland sides since 1996. Over 30 Gap players have represented Queensland in that period. A number of internationals have also come to The Gap to play their football including Kim Revell, Tammie Thornton, Lisa Dunne and Emma Davison. In the inaugural Westfield W-League in 2008-09 the Gap was well represented in the Queensland Roar side by Ellen Beaumont, Ruth Blackburn, Tosh Roma, Lara Boon and Courtney Beutel. These players join 14 other Gap players who have played in women’s national league competitions.
The Honour Roll of Gap players to play for Queensland sides is far too long to mention here and is testimony to the success of the clubs efforts in youth development.
As a club the Gap has achieved the goals that it set itself by committing to high standards and principles. This could not have been achieved without the thankless work of the club’s committed and talented past officials such as Sue Tehan, Judy Fielding, Mark Gilbert, Rae Askew, Rob Askew, Steve Velm, Ann Lazenby, Peter Bonelli, Rae Askew, Mark Gilbert, Judy Fielding, Dee McGregor, Danny Kennedy, Dave Newbery and Barbara Wilkinson. The tremendous work and continued adherence to the club’s philosophy of current administrators such as Glenys Wilkinson, Gai Stephenson, Kate Hall, Mel Andreatta, Ian and Laura Brunning and Elizabeth Musgrave will ensure the club continues its young tradition of success. This success has been achieved by adopting an approach that is different to other clubs in women’s football.
Updated: September, 2014
By Rob Askew
The club started our first season of competition in the 5th division, which at the time was the 2nd lowest division in Brisbane. The team was an eclectic mix of first time players ranging from 30 something mums to school aged players and included at least two mother daughter teams. The inaugural Gap women’s football team did spectacularly well after an average start eventually finishing 2nd in the league and going on to win the Grand Final 1-0 against Jimboomba a feat which was to be repeated in 1994. This initial success inspired the side and targets were set. The goal established at the end of the 1993 season was to win promotion to the top division as soon as possible. Promotion was achieved in successive seasons and in 1997 The Gap entered a team in what was the re-launched Brisbane Women’s Premier League competition. Achieving this target was seen as the end of the first stage of women’s football at The Gap and the start of stage two.
The second stage was the development of The Gap as a Premier League and women’s football force. Work towards this goal started well before entry the Premier League. To achieve this the club intended to focus on player development by establishing girl’s only junior football which at the time was uncommon and pioneering. Youth development with an emphasis on high standards, development pathways for young players, quality coaching, facilities and equipment and opportunities to play either competitively or socially have been the pillars upon which TGFC have built success. The club fielded our first junior all girls’ side in 1996. It was an under 14 team coached by former Queensland and Premier League player Mark Gilbert. By 1999 TGFC were fielding multiple teams in under 12s as well as an under 14 team, an under 16 team and a reserve grade and Premier league team that contained many players that were 16 or under. By 2005 we were fielding record numbers of teams including under 12s, 14s and under 16s, a social team and a reserve grade and Premier League team. Since 1993 The Gap FC have consistently been one of the biggest women’s football clubs in Queensland. The advent of the Junior Premier League and now National Premier League has been a time of disruption and uncertainty resulting in a large portion of our junior based being appropriated by Brisbane City. However, the club has been able to retain a strong contingent of players. The table below is a snapshot of female participation at TGFC in recent seasons.
|NPL||45||Without JPL or NPL|
|*Note that numbers do not consider Miniroos and squirts female players. This is competition aged juniors only. Moreover, JPL numbers are included in 2010, 2011 and 2012 numbers.|
Over the last fifteen years the focus on youth development has been spectacularly successful for The Gap not just in terms of on field results for our senior team but also for our individual players. The club has been consistently among the big teams of Brisbane Women’s football and have fielded teams comprised primarily of players who have developed from within our junior programs. In our first season in the Premier League both reserve grade and the Premier League side made the finals and since 2000 TGFC have played in every Premier League finals campaign. Some of the clubs highlights include:
- 2004 Premier League Premiership;
- 2007 Championship;
- 2008 Championships;
- 2011 Elaine Watson Cup;
- 2012 treble of Premiership, Elaine Watson Cup and Grand Final win,
- 2013 double of Elaine Watson Cup and Grand Final win; and
- 2014 treble of Elaine Watson Cup, Premiership and Grand Final. Moreover, Football Brisbane deemed TGFC appropriate to host the Brisbane Women’s Premier League and South East Queensland Premier League Grand Finals in 2014.
- Receiving the license to coordinate and administer the female Junior Premier Leagues program.
- Receiving the license to coordinate and administer the female National Premier Leagues program.
In 2014 The Gap secured our second treble. In addition to these successes The Gap has played in five losing Grand Finals (2002, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2011) and come second in the league on five occasions (2002, 2003, 2010, 2011 and 2013). These results have been achieved through a commitment to developing players from within and by using the same consistent playing philosophy and approach to player development to produce players with outstanding technical ability and tactical insight. The Gap is renowned for playing attractive, proactive possession based football based on the 4-3-3 and have done so since 2000.
Of equal if not greater importance is the success of our individual players. Our club is proud to have contributed to the development of Matildas such as Pam Bignold, Amy Beattie and Ellen Beaumont and Young Matildas such as Elissia Canham, Ellen Beaumont and Ruth Blackburn. We have also helped develop numerous QAS scholarship holders including Kristie Cummins, Kate Wensley, Elissia Canham, Ellen Beaumont, Sarah Blackwell, Krystina Walker, Leah Curtis, Ruth Blackburn, Natasha Wheeler and Chloe Robertson who despite playing for The Gap (not part of the NPL) was offered a scholarship in late August 2014. Robertson was also recently invited to training camps for the under 17 national side.
It is also reasonable to suggest that no club has a record as good as The Gap for assisting late developers to take the next step to a higher level. The following names are players who have gone directly from our club to play at National League level from outside the QAS system:
- Pam Grant (QAS Sting 2000)
- Amy Beattie (QAS Sting 2002)
- Mel Andreatta (Northern NSW 2004)
- Lauren Hamer (QAS Sting 2005)
- Lara Boon(Qld Roar 2008)
- Courtney Beutel (Qld Roar 2008)
- Tashina Roma (Qld Roar 2008)
- Leah Curtis (Qld Roar 2009)
- Emma Pittman (Qld Roar 2012)
- Gabe Mazarno (Perth Glory 2014).
Former Gap players who have played at National League level from within the QAS include Ellen Beaumont, Krystina Walker, Elisia Canham and Ruth Blackburn. Moreover, several players each year are selected to trial with various W-League clubs.
Another significant indicator of the clubs success has been the high representation of Gap players in Queensland sides since 1996. Over 40 Gap players have represented Queensland in that period. A number of internationals have also come to The Gap to play their football including Kim Revell, Tammie Thornton, Lisa Dunne and Emma Davison.
Another important area where TGFC has a distinguished record is in coach development. The club is proud to count Melissa Andreatta, Pam Bignold and Rebecca Price as products of The Gap. These three women are the cream of Queensland’s female coaches and all are former or current players and coaches at The Gap. Melissa, Pam and Rebecca all work or have recently worked as assistants to Belinda Wilson at The Roar as well as with the QAS and junior Queensland teams and we are certainly proud that three of the four female coaches at the Roar originate from our club.