Wellington Evening Press report from 24th February 1888

Almost 130 years ago on 18th February 1888, what is most probably New Zealand's first ever women's football match, took place at Wellington's Newtown Park.

The Evening Press reported that the teams involved were the Girls High School Club and the Hallelujah Lasses Club. When Hallelujah Lasses received the challenge "...they went instantly into training with Knee-drill and other athletic music...While the Girls High School.....took to the classroom and completed exercises on the new rules of the game set for them by the Lady principal of the school."

The press also discussed which "...nice young fellow should be chosen umpire." as well as the ever important discussions with the chief dressmaker of Te Aro House as to what the most becoming costume for the ladies to wear was.

When it came to organising positions on the pitch, all the Hallelujah Lasses team "...wished to be wings, with a view of ultimately acquiring those appendages. While both teams strongly objected to playing 'forward'."  Then came more controversy as they debated "....whether a tambourine or a celestial globe be used as the football of the day as no one had managed to provide the real article." The issue was resolved by "...Mrs - - (the report felt it impolite to mention the lady by name), who so kindly supplied the deficiency with her dress improver." 


After all this we get to the actual match, but as to what happened we know very little as the Evening Press said "Our readers will, of course, recognise that our feelings of respect and adoration for the fair sex prevent our giving details of the game." They did assure the readers that it was a well fought game while it lasted. There was one incident they mentioned "One sweet young maiden, playing for the 'school' called a 'Lass' a nasty thing for tripping her up and the latter retorted 'you come down our lane and see if I don't throw a jug of water over yer'. After exchanging more compliments, the ladies secured each a champion, and a combat ensued between the meat interest and a money changer, a butcher boy and a bank clerk, which was terminated by Mrs Gamp a great friend of the referee."

The game came to an end when it started to rain and the teams retired to the Salvation Army barracks for afternoon tea. So while we don't know the result, we do know it was very popular, there was game organised for a week later between the Girls High School Teachers and the Hospital Nurses and it was decided that a strong force of St Patrick's boys be sworn to enforce order and ensure that the 10 shilling entry fee was collected. 
Capital celebrate making last season's final after beating WaiBOP on pens The JourneyFan

130 years on, Capital Football play their first home game of the National Women's League (NWL) season on Saturday (28th October) when they take on Central at Petone Memorial (KO 1pm). 

While the game has obviously moved on a lot since that day in 1888, there is still a way to go. The National Women's League is a seven team, one round competition, meaning there are only 21 games (23 including the finals), despite this low number, NZ Football have still managed to produce scheduling conflicts with the Men's ISPS Handa Premiership for 30% of the games. Coaching is still dominated by males (although this is a world-wide issue) and when NZF secured a new benefactor in ISPS Handa, an organisation with a good record of supporting women's sport, they seemed to have neglected to mention the women's game, hence the NWL and National Womens Knockout Cup not having a sponsor.

On the up side NZF have indicated that the league should be an eight team, two round competition from next season. They are serious about increasing the number of female coaches, there are three head coaches in the league currently and they have held several female only coaching courses to encourage participation from women and the standard of the women's competition is very close, after the first two rounds there are only two teams that remain unbeaten. 

Capital went down 2-1 in Auckland last weekend and will be looking to get their campaign kick started, while Central will be hoping Miesha Boone can continue her goal scoring exploits that have seen her net four goals in the first two weeks. So see you all at Petone Memorial on Saturday