Vale Elaine Watson OAM

Football Australia is saddened to hear of the passing of former Australian women's football administrator Elaine Watson OAM this week, a true matriarch of Australian women's football.

Elaine Watson was a pioneer of women’s football in Australia, beginning her career as a team manager in 1964.

During these early years, Watson was involved as a referee and coach, gaining valuable administrative skills whilst serving in national and state positions of treasurer, finance director, manager and tour leader.

Elaine Watson OAM

In 1975 she became the foundation president of the Queensland Women’s Association, later serving as national president and then Oceania president for eight years.

Watson was the manager of the first Australian team to attend the Women’s 1978 World Invitational Tournament in Taiwan.

She served as a tour leader for the first Oceania Cup and tour leader for the 1988 pilot World Cup in China.

Watson was the first person to be awarded life membership of the Australian Women’s Soccer Association.

In 1993, Elaine’s long-standing commitment to ensuring equal opportunities for girls and women in football was recognised when she was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM). 

In 2010, Football Brisbane renamed the zone’s premier women’s trophy the Elaine Watson Cup in honour of her “many years of selfless service”. 

Football Australia Hall of Fame administrator Heather Reid AM said:

"The passing of Elaine Watson OAM will leave a significant hole in the hearts of all those who were fortunate to know her. Often regarded as the ‘matriarch of women’s football in Australia’, Elaine was a giant of our sport both domestically and internationally."

"Her substantial contributions to the development and progression of football for women through her many roles, over two decades from the formative years of the 1970s through to an established national office for women’s football and FIFA-recognised competitions in the 1990s, cannot be understated." 

"As president of the Australian Women’s Soccer Association and manager or tour leader of many Australian teams, Elaine was instrumental in growing national competitions and championed competition for the Matildas beyond the Trans-Tasman region. She was a formidable, determined and highly regarded leader with vision, dedication and commitment to creating opportunities for girls and women."

"She drove an agenda to improve the status of football to make it more accommodating for females in a heavily dominated male environment and through her pioneering endeavours she created space where there was none for girls and women to participate in the world game as players, referees, coaches and administrators. In many regards, Elaine’s legacy is substantial and enduring." Reid concluded.

Football Australia send their condolences to the Watson family, and those closest to Elaine. Vale.