The most powerful Australian in world football
Moya Dodd In the male-dominated world of football, Moya Dodd is working hard to make the game accessible to girls and women at all levels – but she says that she doesn’t want to be famous for being female.
Moya is the Chair of the Women’s Football Committee in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and has become Australia’s first female representative on football’s world governing body, FIFA.
The lawyer and former mid-fielder for the Matildas also sits on AFC’s Executive Committee where the competitions and development resources are decided.
“Some days it’s tough being a pioneer,” says Moya. “You are exposed to more scrutiny and judgement, and sometimes not taken seriously as it’s assumed you are only there for decorative or tick-a-box purposes. You have to earn your credibility.
“The most rewarding times are when you can overcome those issues, make the game grow, and make it easier for those who come next.”
Thanks to Moya the AFC is developing a vision and strategy to develop the game in Asia. Her successes include lobbying to get the headscarf rule changed so that half-a-billion Muslim women in the world can play. She also visited Iran where she spoke out against the ban on women being allowed to attend men’s matches in stadiums.
Moya says the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada was another huge milestone where ratings were at record levels, making TV advertisers and sponsors very happy. Fox in the US more than doubled its expected revenues.
She is also working tirelessly to get more women into decision-making roles as board members or head coaches.
“Three women were added to the FIFA executive committee in 2013, after 108 years!” says Moya. “Women coaches still meet great hurdles, although when backed, they are enormously successful. Most of the major football world tournaments this century have been won by female coaches.”
Her next big challenge is to build gender equity into a meaningful reform framework in football at all levels and to commercialise the women’s game so that athletes and coaches can have proper football careers. Moya says that these challenges are fun and that’s also how she refers to the diversity of her jam-packed schedule of work and life and spending up to a third of her year travelling.
And she’s always been a good juggler. While studying law at the University of Adelaide in the 1980s she threw herself into extracurricular activities, not all of them revolving around football. Moya says she loved every moment of writing for student paper On Dit which she says had its own bizarre extracurricular life – such as a band (Too Sick To Sing) and various renegade projects.
“I remember one former editor meticulously making a very convincing ‘On Dit Lane’ sign which we secretly mounted on the building, and the authorities failed to notice or remove it. When it eventually fell off, the University replaced it with an official sign!” she says.
“We were totally absorbed in creating the best paper possible every week. Aside from playing football, I spent pretty much every waking moment there in 1986, and learned all kinds of things that I would never have learned in a lecture theatre.”
Moya says that her experiences at university were formative.
“It not only gave me a recognised honours degree in law, but a priceless second education at the student newspaper – learning how to question and probe, the experience of writing in the public sphere, and a fabulous network of smart, engaged peers who went on to do interesting things in their professional and public lives,” she says.
“On top of that, the sporting facilities meant I could pursue my football career within a stone’s throw of my student life.”
Moya continued to play for the Adelaide University Soccer Club when she was a judge’s associate at the SA Supreme Court and was recently made a life member of the club. She went on to be vice-captain of the Matildas, Australia’s national women’s team, and participated in the first ever women’s international tournament in 1988 in China.
Moya urges those seeking to follow in her footsteps to be prepared to work hard. “It’s a lot like playing football. If you put in the work in training, you will be ready and able to take your opportunities in a game. And you never know where those opportunities will come from.”
In her campaign speech while running for the FIFA Executive Committee, Moya told the FIFA Congress: “I love working for football”. It’s this passion that is driving her goal to commercialise women’s football “so that every little girl in the world can dream of being a footballer”.
Find out about the Adelaide University Soccer Club (AUSC) at www.adelaideunisoccerclub.com
Story by Genevieve Sanchez