Mia Smith has made history in the Western Region Football League, becoming the first transgender player to be granted permission to play in any of the league’s competitions. She spoke with Tara Murray about what it means to be able to take to the field for North Sunshine’s women’s side this year.
Mia Smith didn’t think she’d ever get the chance to play with North Sunshine in the Western Region Football League women’s competition.
Having joined the club as a supporter Smith, who is transgender, was happy watching the club’s women’s side run round.
She then started to help out where she could and last year joined the club’s committee.
Smith then joined the Roadrunners for a few training sessions, with a dream of one day being able to pull on the jumper in a game for the club which had become like home.
That dream is now a reality, with the WRFL granting permission for Smith to play for the Roadrunners women’s side this season.
A WRFL spokesperson said Smith was the first transgender player to take to the field in the WRFL.
Her approval to play was granted under the Australian Football League community football gender diversity policy.
“It’s so amazing,” Smith said following the news. “I’m flying high.
“The club has been absolutely tremendous. The club hasn’t seen me as a trans person, but as a person.”
Smith said it was pretty special to be the first transgender player to take to the field in the competition.
“It’s pretty mind blowing,” she said.
“I know a lot of transgender playing at the moment and to be the first in this league would be awesome.”
Smith first came across the side when they would come to her former workplace, Pride of our Footscray Community Bar, for a drink. It was there that she connected with the group.
She decided that as the team was supporting her in her work, that she would support them on the field, and went to watch them play.
“I just went along to support them,” she said.
“I would watch them play four players down… Win or loss, each week they played as there was a point or two in it.
“The players are so amazing and I’m in awe the way they do it.”
Smith joined in training last season before COVID-19 shut down the season and joined in again ahead of the upcoming season.
It was only when she got given the go ahead to play that she knew her dream could become a reality.
“I had no interest in playing footy until a few years ago,” she admits.
Smith, who is 53-years-old, said she hadn’t played any sport including football since finishing school.
She said she would love to play a couple of seasons.
“I don’t want special rights, I just want equal rights,” she said.
“The committee and especially the women’s team has been amazing. I’m so lucky I bumped into them, it’s been life altering.”
Club president and former women’s coach Rob Telfer said this is what community football is about.
Telfer was among those at the bar the night Smith first met the women’s team.
He presented Smith with her jumper at training after the announcement was made that she could play.
“This just shows how far football has come”, he said.
“It [football] should be open to everyone, that’s what our club is about, giving everyone a go.
“When I got the news I was proud; proud that it is our club that has taken the hard steps to fight to make sure we got a result, the result we wanted”.