Women’s Footy – Bud Breakfasts and the Shifting Horizons of Girls

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
– Epicurus


February 2018


– Hey Bud Oon, I think the women’s footy has started again.
– Has it?


They’re in the back room. My daughters are in our light-filled back room. A breeze catches the many summer leaves outside. It’s a late, lazy Saturday morning. A summer morning. A summer breakfast after a late Friday night of mates and playing and the local park and its barbecue and its mozzies.


Buddy Oon (12-years-old) is at the table. Her eyes flick over the back page of the newspaper, carelessly uncurling on the table. A newspaper just like this one is delivered to our home each Saturday morning.


– Yeah. It was on TV last night; remember? says Yum.
– Was it?
– Yeah. It’s definitely started again. The women’s footy.


Oon used to support the Lions. Sort of. Not really.


Bud Oon started off liking the Lions because in the animal kingdom hierarchy, the lion itself is an unquestionably majestic animal. Mighty. But I go for Collingwood. So does her Mum. Sort of. And her little sister Buddy Yum does, too. So perhaps supporting the Lions began to feel bit too lonely. A bit isolating. These days Bud Oon is a staunch Magpie.


Summer sunlight bathes the garden.


Standing at the bench Buddy Yum (10-years-old) taps batter-covered beaters against the side of a mixing bowl. A pale blue egg carton sits, lid askew, amidst a faint dusting of plain flour on the surface of the bench.


– Would you like to light the stove, Oon?


Yum places the dirty beaters in the sink.


– Nah. You can.



Bud Yum is not happy with that answer. With enormous trepidation, she takes the match box down from the ledge and she opens it. Lighting matches is not her idea of fun. Lighting the stove is certainly not her idea of fun.


Slowly Buddy Yum takes a match from the box, breathes deeply, and strikes the reddened head against the grainy friction of the box’s side.


Flame sparks, flares and catches. It fizzingly catches. The end of the wooden match is on fire. Bud Yum is holding a very short stick of dry wood that is on fire.


Time appears to speed up. Time races.


Without awareness of thought, Buddy Yum, with her left hand, turns the dial for the left front stove element, the dial that controls the release of flammable gas from a pipe. She turns the dial such that flammable gas is released. Buddy Yum lowers the flaming short stick towards this element, this element now hissing with the issue of a flammable gas. Images of fire-breathing dragons sweep Yum’s vision. Her heart rate increases again.




Gas ignites in an expanding cloud of flame, temporarily spreading far from the element itself. Bud Yum’s very fingers are momentarily engulfed.


– Ohh!


But she’s alright.
She’s done it.
The stove is lit.


– Yes!
– What is it, Bud?
– I lit the stove. I lit the stove and I’m not even burned to a crisp.
– That’s good.


Back down the hallway, a toilet flushes.
Yum turns to her sister.


– Oonest Bud, why did you ever barrack for the Lions?


Buddy Oon bares her imaginary fangs; her claws.


– Oh dear! Help me, help me! There’s a lion loose in the kitchen!


They’re laughing. They’re both laughing like a chime of bells.


– Ahh, well… I don’t know, Yum. I just like lions.
– Well… that’s a pretty good reason. Lions certainly are fierce.
– Yeah. Why do you go for the magpies?
– Oh, because Dad does. And I do like magpies, too. They have a beautiful call. And they can be fierce.
– They do have a beautiful call. I love the magpies’ call. That’s why I barrack for the magpies now. And so we can be magpie-buds.
– Yeah!


Buddy Yum places a small knob of butter into the pan, already warming above the stove-top fire.


– Are you ready for some pancakes, Bud Oon?
– Sure thing, Yumabug. Would you like strawberries on yours?
– Yeah, Bud.


Batter runs slowly into the pan. Yum smooths the mixture, spreads it around with a spatula, creating a thin layer of pancake.




 “Come with me into the world and reclaim your independence. You stand to gain so much, and riches are the least of it.”
– Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers


February 2014

It’s a summer morning.
Brekky around the table. Daughters on school holidays.
I’m trying to absorb the paper.
Happily, with a Test match in play, I’ve got Malcolm Knox and Greg Baum and Chloe Saltau with my weetbix and yoghurt.
Buddy Oon (8-years-old) notices.


– What’s that you’re reading, Dad?


Buddy Yum (6-years-old) answers on my behalf.


– It’s the paper, Oon.
– I can see that, Bud Yum.
– Oh. Then why did you ask?
– I mean, what is the story about?
– Oh, sorry Bud.
– That’s alright, Bud. Dad, what is the story about?


– Hmmm..?
– Dad, Buddy Oon is asking you what that newspaper story is about. Oh, look Oon. There’s a photo of a cricket man.
– Is he wearing a box?
– Yeah Dad, is he wearing a box?


I purchased a box for a recent cricket match.
It remains an hysterically funny item in our house.
Everyone is laughing. That genuine, slapstick, Marx Brothers laughter.


– Yep, Buds, he probably is wearing a box.
– Oh, look, Bud, he’s got a cricket bat.
– Dad, where are the cricket girls?
– Yeah Dad, where are the cricket girls? Why are they always cricket men?
– Where are all the girls, Dad?


Ahh, I think. That’s grand. They have my full attention now.


– What do you mean?
– I mean, why are all the cricket people in the paper men?
– And on TV, too, Bud.
– That’s right, Bud. On TV, too. Don’t girls play cricket, Dad?
– Well yes, Buds, they do.
– So why aren’t they in the paper?


Excellent questions from Oon (8-years-old) and Yum (6).
I wonder: where are their ongoing societal role models for a sporting life of participation?
Neither of them is nuts about sport. But they enjoy playing games.


– Girls should be in the paper, shouldn’t they Bud?
– Yes, let’s ring up the paper, Bud.
– Good idea.
– Dad, what’s the number?


But there exists a relative vacuum in the coverage of female team sport in Australia.

– Let’s not ring up the paper just now, Buds. Instead, let’s try and think of any women we’ve seen in the paper.
– There are none.
– None? Come on.
– Nope. There are none.
– None.
– It’s not fair.


Something I feel ever more keenly, seeing the world through the growing eyes of Buddies Oon and Yum. How does their world view differ from boys their age? Where are their limits?


– Yeah, it’s not fair. All the footy players are men, too.
– Yeah Bud, it’s not fair.
– We’re going to be in the paper, aren’t we Bud?
– Yeah Bud. We’re going to be in the paper.
– Ahh, what will you Buds be doing in the paper?


I try to imagine if coverage of women’s representative team sport was equal to that of the men.


– We’ll be making it fair, won’t we Bud?
– Yeah Bud. We’re going to make it fair.



“Some things can’t be explained. They just are. And after a while they disappear, usually forever, or become interesting in another way. Literature’s consolations are always temporary, while life is quick to begin again. It is better not even to look so hard, to leave off explaining. Nothing makes me more queasy than to spend time with people who don’t know that and who can’t forget, and for whom such knowledge isn’t a cornerstone of life.”
? Richard Ford, The Sportswriter



February 2018

Buddy Yum (10-years-old) flips the first pancake. Recently she burnt her finger on a hot frying pan. Today, with the careful attention of a neurosurgeon, she works the flipper underneath an edge. She lifts. And she flips the pancake. Yum smiles to herself; face aglow with that unique satisfaction of conquering a fear.


– You can have this first one, Oon.
– Ahh, thanks Yum. Is it a tester?
– Well, it’s worked out perfectly. It’s a good tester.
– Why, thank you.


Yum relaxes at the stove. The pressure is off. She dances around, skips over towards her sister, standing at the open fridge.


– Do we even have strawberries?
– Yeah, what do you call these?


Buddy Yum reaches for a punnet of strawberries sitting clearly on the second shelf.


– Err, these are called snozzberries, Bud. But let’s try snozzberries today.
– Alright. Sure. Just for today.


While Buddy Oon (12-years-old) carries the punnet of snozzberries (strawberries) to the table, Buddy Yum scoops up the first pancake and delivers it to Oon’s plate.


– Ahh, see? Look at the paper.
– What paper?


Reaching the table, Oon doesn’t even try to look at the newspaper.


– See them on the back page?
– See who?
– The women footballers. I told you they played last night.
– Did you say footy? Go Pies.
– Go Pies.


Yum places a pancake on the table in front of her Buddy Oon.


This Saturday morning has about it a wonderful summer holiday pace. School is only recently back for the year. It is a time when even our summer camping holiday to the beach feels within touching distance; within easy recall; within mind and within body.


Oon spreads a few cut strawberries on her pancake. She rolls it up and takes a bite.


– Oh, Buddy Yum, mmm-hmmm. You have nailed it.


Yum stands at the stove, pouring the next portion of batter into the pan.


– Yes, I did nail it. Bang bang. Hey Oon, is Ella going to play footy again this year?


Ella is Buddy Oon’s friend. She’s a friend of both Oon and Yum, really. Last year she played in the local girls’ Under 13s.


– I guess.


– Good morning, everyone.

Just out of bed, I shuffle into the functioning kitchen. I look like I just got out of bed.


– Hi Dad. You look like you just got out of bed.
– Ahh, that’s an interesting observation, Buddy Yum. Or should I say: Sherlock Holmes?


I slide over to the table.


– Did you guys sleep well?


General murmurs of agreement.
As is customary, I’m drawn to the newspaper


– Ah ha! Buds! Look at this. I say. Women’s footy on the back page! The back page! This is terrific.


The girls look at each other; slightly confused.


– Of course they’re on the back page, Dad, says Oon.
– Yeah, says Yum. That’s where the footy always goes.

About David Wilson

Hit for a towering 6 by Mike Gatting at the Banyule Cricket Club, December 2002, theatrically attempting to reproduce the SK Warne delivery. The ball is yet to land. @e_regnans


  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    Love this David. Seeing women athletes on TV and papers is an aha moment for big girls too. And I miss them on the back page when I have to search but at least they are there.

  2. Dave Brown says:

    Slowly, but surely, getting there. Hopefully we can get out of their way more quickly than the previous generation.

  3. What a brilliant finish, e.r.! Loved this.

    What a difference 4 years makes – in so many different ways.

  4. Loved the Epicurus/De Witt quotes ER. How do you find them/file them? They are a wonderful feature of your writing. And not just the usual suspects for quotes.
    Love the rites of passage in growing up and how you nurture the healthy branches.

  5. John Butler says:

    Splendid, E Reg.

    It’s easy to overlook how much has changed so recently.

  6. Fantastic Er. Do we even dare to imagine what footy, and women’s footy will look like as soon as 2020? The pace of change is astonishing.

    During this cricket season, our eldest’s first, I learnt that a synonym for box is cup! And feel no shame for whatever they’re called they’re innately funny. Shouldn’t be, given their function, but they are.


  7. Luke Reynolds says:

    Superb ER. While there’s still a long way to go, this piece shows how far we’ve come in a few short years.

    Well played to Buddy Oon for seeing the black & white light.

  8. E.regnans says:

    G’day all. Thanks for your support.

    Peter_B: quotes I include are usually from books I’ve read along the way. I can rarely remember specifics (not my forte), but with the title and/ or author as a guide, I usually find what I’m after at “https://www.goodreads.com/quotes”

  9. I agree with Smoke (and others!) Brilliant conclusion. When your kids look at you in those situations (often around gender) as if to say ‘And your point is?’ I feel it’s a different world to the world of my childhood.

    I would say, though, that in The People’s Republic of Northcote there is an important area which needs attention. Understanding of financial struggle. I grew up in a country town where alot of families were just hanging in there – and happy. The assumption of significant prosperity clouds your view – and removes ‘class’ from the front of mind.

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Great stuff ER. Always partial to the odd Epicurus quote. He never “desired to please the rabble”.
    Sounds like you and yours had a great summer. Roll on autumn…

  11. E.regnans says:

    Thanks JT Harms and P Dimitriadis.
    The times are a-changing (as ever).
    Being aware of the range of human experience, i would argue, is pretty important.
    Financial struggle, political struggle, status struggle. Gender struggle. Race struggle. On it goes.
    Awareness a good start.

    Epicurus is a beauty.
    Autumn undoubtedly my favourite time of year in Melbourne.
    Roll on autumn…

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