All White Marco Rojas has pledged a $20,000 donation to help fund women’s football initiatives at Melbourne Victory, the club for whom he’s played in three stints.
The money will go into a community programme that will support the Victory’s elite women’s programme, the Afghan women’s national team and help pay for coaching scholarships for female coaches and to buy equipment.
Rojas (31) is currently playing for Chilean giants Colo Colo but is seeking an early release from his contract that ends in December.
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The forward, who has played 43 games for New Zealand, told Australia’s KEEPUP site:
“Having been in football for a little while, I noticed that there were quite a lot of gaps between what’s offered in the elite men’s space and the women’s … but in the men’s space and women’s space in general.”
Since he first arrived at Melbourne Victory in 2012, he had seen the club’s women’s programmes evolve but had also seen the differences in resourcing the men’s and women’s programmes.
“I was playing there and I’d been there for many years over the three different periods that I was a player at the club. I was able to see the differences very clearly and very closely.
“I guess the last time when I came over here, I began to think about it a lot and realised that it was something that I wanted to help to close the gap that I had seen because of the years that I had spent at the stadium, the changing rooms and within close proximity to their team and our team.
Rojas: ‘I still feel there’s a lot that can be done’
“That’s why I wanted to help them because I had been able to see the difference between our team and their team and what resources and things that they had available and also because in general, the club definitely holds a special place for me.
“I hope that this donation and this support would help them close those gaps in the functions that no one really sees like the little things that are behind the scenes, that support the team the most or support the coaching staff or whatever it is.
“I still feel like there’s a lot that can be done and I really hope that it continues to be (done).”
Rojas wanted to support the Afghan national team who have had a partnership with Victory since players were granted asylum in Australia following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021.
The team plays in Victoria’s State League 4 West, the seventh tier of Australian football.
Victory’s Community Football Coordinator (Female & Inclusion) Bree Catania told KEEPUP:
“I think it’s a great opportunity that the women, in particular, get to have. I know I’m currently working with two schools that are female-specific programmes.
“This is going to help me massively in terms of kickstarting new programmes, especially for females, and when it comes to the cultural backgrounds as well. I’m currently working with Islamic girls that don’t necessarily get the opportunity, or where they have that religion belief, where they can’t play it outside of school.
“It’s really great that we can actually give this opportunity during school hours as well, which is not only going to benefit the community but also the women in particular.”