FIFA Women’s World Cup: WA woman Carol Groom helped bring the world game to WA
More than 70 years before the Matildas made history by reaching their first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinal, Carol Groom was paving the way for soccer in WA.
The national women’s team’s heart-stopping quarterfinal penalty shootout victory against France on Saturday continued to dazzle a nation that remains firmly gripped by Matildas mania.
Mrs Groom, a Perth woman who wanted her son to have the opportunity to play a different sports code, played a pivotal role in bringing the world game to WA’s shores in the 1950s, helping form the first-ever school soccer team at Maylands State School.
After marrying an English husband Mrs Groom fell in love with the sport and in 1952 took it upon herself to get the wheels in motion, approaching the Maylands State School headmaster with a request to establish a team.
Her son Edward, who lives in the Great Southern city of Albany, was one of the first school children to play the sport.
“Mum did most of the work and was the driving force behind starting the team,” Mr Groom said.
“My mother approached the Maylands School headmaster, who said if we could prove the students were interested, then we could form a soccer team.
“My father bought a soccer ball and I took it to school.
“We took the ball towards the top oval, a bitumen area, and I think just about every kid in the school was chasing it around that day.
“My mother then approached the headmaster with the evidence, and he allowed us to form a team.”
Mr Groom said the game slowly began to develop in WA from there.
“Mum went to the Bayswater School who also formed a team, and we played each other every week,” he said.
“There were about six school teams formed in the next five years.
“The Daily News heard about us and did an article in the paper, saying the new school teams were a threat to the established Aussie Rules teams.
“We had a lot of opposition from the Australian Rules cohort in the early days, we had Maylands State School on our jumpers and people used to call us the Maylands soccer suckers.
“Mum kept coaching the Maylands School team after I left and people would often ask why she was still involved, she loved it.”
With the Matildas to play England in a blockbuster World Cup semifinal in front of a packed house on Wednesday night, Mr Groom said his mum would be watching over proudly.
“I’m sure Mum would be thrilled to see the Matildas in the finals if she was here today,” Mr Groom said.
“She would be absolutely rapt with how far it has come.
“I often look at fields of kids playing soccer, sometimes a few hundred of them, and think — Mum started all that.
“We should be very proud of her.”
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