From Informal Recreation to a Geography of Achievement: Womens Soccer in South Australia

Edoardo Rosso

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Since its inclusion amongst Olympic sports in the 1990s, women's soccer has grown impressively worldwide. Despite its rapid global expansion and growth in the number of playing participants, the sport has been neglected by geographers. In Australia, which is currently the fifth women's soccer country in the world as per registered players, the popularity of the sport has grown significantly in recent years. Perhaps even more strikingly, however, the approach to the sport has changed, to focus on the achievement of results. The shift in the purpose of women's soccer, from a solely social and recreational activity to an achievement sport, is a result of the increasing links between the local women's soccer systems and the global world of sport. The paper examines an exemplar of South Australia, and in particular the Adelaide metropolitan region. Here, in the last 30 years, women's soccer has evolved from a geography of foundation, defined by informal organisation and localised scope, to a geography of achievement, characterised by an institutionalised focus on the production of players, the introduction of higher-profile 'sportscapes', a broader pattern of clubs distribution, and a new set of connections with global women's soccer. The current geography of achievement links local and global women's soccer scenes. On the other hand, it funnels access to the achievement level of South Australian women's soccer to a limited central area of Adelaide's metropolitan region. The paper also draws attention to the part that social capital, and especially 'bridging' social capital, played in enabling the evolution of Adelaide women's soccer. The role of social capital as a contributing element of the development of sporting systems is a topic that deserves further investigation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)181-196
    Number of pages16
    JournalGeographical Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • Achievement sport
    • Global sport
    • Social capital
    • South Australia
    • Sports geography
    • Women's soccer


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