Heather Reid is a Football Federation Australia Hall of Fame member, having committed more than four decades to the sport as an advocate, administrator, volunteer and coach. A foundation member of the ACT Women’s Sports Association in 1979, her career included a long stint as CEO of Capital Football, advocacy towards Sydney’s hosting of the 2000 Olympics, and becoming the first elected member of the Football Australia board in 2018.

Much has been made of what the Matildas could inspire should they succeed at the Women’s World Cup. Young girls and boys of today could drive on to previously untold levels of football success and societal equality for having been exposed to a women’s national team representing their country at the pinnacle of global sport on home soil.

To project forward it’s imperative to reflect, and in their quiet moments perhaps the current Matildas do so of the work of the likes of Heather Reid. Witnessing football for the first time as the daughter of Scottish migrants working on New South Wales’ Snowy Mountains Hydro scheme, Reid has dedicated her life to building the platform that this group have stepped onto at this home World Cup.

‘It means a great deal. I’m full of pride, and anticipation for the Matildas to do well. I’ve had the privilege of working with so many fine players over these forty years. Who would have thought we’d be here now, at this moment?’ Reid told Box2Box Offside on tournament eve.

‘Personally, after all the trials and tribulations and battles, as well as the joy and great love I have for the game… to be here now, I get goosebumps.’


Reid describes her childhood as part of the multicultural community working on the Snowy Mountains hydro electric scheme in the 1960’s as ‘an absolute blessing’, through Cooma, Kahncoban and Towlinga.

‘I had friends called Liviscianous, Krapinski, Locevski, people from all backgrounds in Europe, and of course Scotland, England and Ireland. It was whilst there in a little town called Talbingo, nestled in the foothills of the snowies, that I first saw men from the workers camp playing soccer, and was encouraged to have a kick of the ball and join in.

‘Soccer wasn’t a sport for girls, I played hockey, and thought if only I’d had the chance to properly play with those under 15-16 boys, would life have been different? My childhood, in such a diaspora of not only people but culture, food, music and lifestyle, is something I cherish every single day.’

Reid placed herself at the forefront of women’s football administration from an early age, and was a founding member of the ACT Women’s Football Association in 1979 that ‘continued in a pretty robust way for the next twenty-five years.’

‘In those early years [women’s football] was regarded as a bit of a laugh, but we were dead serious in wanting the same opportunities that men had, the sense of belonging in the sport they had, and to feel safe and comfortable in the environment we were playing in.’

Reid became involved on a national level in 1986, holding the position of National Executive Director of the Australian Women’s Soccer Association until 1992. Through this period women’s football earned its own World Cup and inclusion at the Olympic Games, a status Reid played a part in achieving. This toil reaped the ultimate reward in the mid-90’s with the granting of the 2000 Games to Sydney; at this point, the Matildas story really began to gather pace.

‘It was kind of coincidental that in 1993 the IOC announced women’s soccer would be included on the programme for Atlanta ‘96, and announced in the same week that Sydney would host 2000. That was huge, and meant there would be an injection of funding into the sport from ‘95 onwards.

‘We ended up with a full time scholarship programme for our women at the AIS, and things kind of took off. It meant we also had a full time coach in Tom Sermanni, and others that came on. So there was a major change in the governance and management structure of the women’s game that was inconceivable before holding Olympic Games status.’

Status acquired, the Matildas have gone on to feature at eight consecutive World Cups, reaching the quarter-finals on three occasions, as well as four appearances at the Olympic games. Reid returned to the ACT, becoming the first woman to be appointed CEO of a state Football Association (Capital Football).

Her twelve-year reign oversaw the implementation of Canberra’s W-League team, still the only standalone women’s licence in Australia’s national-level competitions, and work on Australia’s hosting of the 2015 Men’s Asian Cup.

‘Canberra United has stood the test of time. I’m very proud of what we achieved: the opportunities it created for players both foreign and local, the crowd support, and the consistency we had in our venue at McKellar Park.


Already a member of Football Australia’s Hall of Fame, Reid was happily retired on the Sunshine Coast when in 2018 her love for the sport in the country drew her back in, and ultimately took a heavy toll. Her time serving on the board from 2018-201 saw the controversial dismissal of Alen Stajcic as Matildas manager despite on-field success. To what extent Reid’s influence played a part was debated vociferously among sections of the football community, and quickly grew to a black chapter to nobody’s benefit.

Simultaneously Reid was dealt a major personal challenge, diagnosed with Stage 4 endometrial cancer that ‘was pretty significant, and severe.’ These factors saw her step away from the board for a period in 2019, before ultimately being removed in 2021 following allegations of interfering with the election of another board member.

‘The AGM in 2018 was significant for it was the first time there was competition for a place on the board of the then-FFA. The work done under the congress review working party meant a requirement that the new board had gender representation of 40-40-20 – I was asked by the PFA to accept a nomination to stand for the board.

‘I’m a great advocate for walking the talk around needing more women in governance so accepted the nomination and was elected in a landslide victory. At the end of 2018 the board made a unanimous decision to terminate the previous coach. I was part of the decision, but not the key person in the decision making.

‘Things went from bad to worse for me. Myself and others were accused of trying to orchestrate the demise of the former coach. Things became so brutal in terms of public comment and also my (cancer) treatment regime that I needed to step away, and even that brought all sorts of comment and consternation as to why.’

The furore took time to subside, but Reid now sees the lighter side in being the first person elected to Football Australia’s board, and equally the first dismissed. She remains involved in Women’s football advocacy group ‘Women Onside’ – ‘who are giving me great inspiration and hope for the future’ – and can sit back and enjoy the growth of the sport with perspective on how far it has come.

‘I think of being at the first game of the 2000 Olympics with my dear mother at Canberra Stadium the day before the first game, looking around at the stadium bursting with pride, thinking ‘we did it.’

‘Who would have thought the Matildas would kick off those Olympics, or an opening game of a Women’s World Cup before 80,000 people? All the naysayers can disappear as far as I’m concerned, those who said this is not a game for women should hang their heads in shame.

‘This is a game for everybody, and women and girls have just as much right to enjoy it at whatever level they want, and realise their potential through the world game, like no other sport can offer in this country.’