Of the 10 football clubs in Southland, three have female presidents and each shares common ground. All three acknowledge supportive, hard-working committees which back them up and all talk of social, family-orientated clubs. This week Lindsay Beer spoke to Leeann Duston, president of Queens Park Association Football Club.
DUSTON started playing social summer football in the 2009/2010 season.
“I was asked to play in a work team with mates. I then went on to play winter football.”
Although she acknowledged she was a “netball girl”, the lure of football pulled her in.
“I am a netball girl, but I was sick of netball, so I joined Queens Park and have no regrets.”
She played for the Queens Park Ladies team.
“The first year was all about learning the sport and the coach asked me to be captain in the second year.
“It was almost another six years before I joined the committee and I got involved in fundraising and things.
“I spent three years junior coaching and became vice-president last year. ”
The president at that time was leaving and it was a huge help to spend a year learning off him, she said.
“He was a very good president and he left big boots to fill. It was good that the club could see the time was coming to fill the role.
“I became president at the AGM just before last Christmas.”
However, there were more challenges ahead, with Covid-19 affecting all sports.
“It was quite a year to take the reins with definite challenges around Covid-19.
“It is okay if you have the right team around you. It would be too much for one person.
“With the Covid situation everyone stepped up and we still had phone meetings and continued our planning.”
Duston said it was rewarding to go out on a Saturday morning and see everyone playing.
“Our club is slowly growing and it is great to watch our juniors and youth come through to senior ranks.
“I never wanted to join committees even when my kids were involved in different activities – it just wasn’t my cup of tea.”
So, what has changed?
“I think it is about the people, we are a smallish club, family-orientated and they made me feel welcome. I have found something I enjoy and am passionate about.”
One of Duston’s highlights was helping Kate Bunting coach the Southland under-12 girls team which went to Blenheim and won the South Island Tournament.
“It was a real highlight and it was really special that both of us came from the Queens Park Club.”