It is with great sadness that Football Australia has learned of the passing of one of the earliest advocates of women’s football in Australia, Joe O’Connor.
O’Connor passed away in his adopted hometown of Perth at the age of 88.
After emigrating to Australia in 1963 with his wife Pat and young son Kirk, O’Connor became one of the driving forces of women’s football in Australia in the 60s and 70s with coaching stints at Sydney Prague, St George Budapest and the NSW Women’s State Team.
Along with Pat, a Football Australia Hall of Fame inductee, O’Connor was a crucial figure in commencing the NSW Metropolitan Ladies Soccer Association in 1968 and the Australian Women’s National Championships in 1974.
During his time with the NSW Women’s State Team, the team became a powerhouse claiming the 1974, 1976 and 1977 National Championships.
Under his management, the Irish-born coach propelled the development of young players with his passion and commitment to the women’s game. Several players from the O’Connor coached St George Budapest and NSW Women’s State Teams later become Australian representatives including Cindy Heydon and Kim Coates.
In 1975, O’Connor coached the first team from Australia to participate in the first women’s AFC Women's Championship competition in Hong Kong ,where the side finished in third place.
The O’Connors moved to Perth in the late 70s where Joe O’Connor continued his involvement with football playing until he was 51.
O’Connor is widely recognised as one of the pioneers of women’s football and is remember for his sense of humour, football intellect and passion for the game.
Football NSW and Football Queensland have honoured his contribution, alongside with Pat, to the early growth of women’s football in NSW through the Watson-O’Connor Cup.
Joe O’Connor is survived by Pat, son Kirk, daughter-in-law Diana and grandchildren Shannon and Sean.
The Australian football community extends our deepest condolences to the O’Connor family and those closest to them.
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