FOOTBALL’S NEW RULE

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29:  Charlize Rule of Sydney FC controls the ball during the round 11 A-League Women's match between Sydney FC and Perth Glory at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, on March 29, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Young star player Charlie Rule has one big goal: give women in Australia the opportunity to make the beautiful game their full time job. Lisa Mayoh reports

WHEN Charlie Rule was a young girl who loved to play soccer, the only players she had to look up to were men – something she and her Sydney FC teammates are determined to change.

After recently taking out the premiership for the third year running, tomorrow the 20-year-old and her team Sydney FC will go into the semi-final against Western United on top of the ladder, hoping to score a spot in the final on April 30.

But for Rule, it’s one game at a time

“Its so crazy seeing the stadium was sold out and its so cool to see how much its grown”

A game that she hopes will take her to the Matildas one day, making all her teenage sacrifices worth it.

“The women’s game is growing so much at the moment, and it is so important for young girls to be able to look up to people – when I was younger I looked up to boys in the game – my brother and all the men’s players that I watched,” she said.

“So it’s good now that the Matildas are doing really well and there’s actually a platform for girls to

look up to and aspire to be like them – that’s what I try
and do with my social media.”

Together with her friend Bayley, Rule has more than 138,000 followers on TikTok, with almost five million likes. It’s connecting with her generation in a way that reaches the masses, and she’s intent on sharing the hard work and “real life” it takes to rise to the top in the
world of Aussie football.

“It just came out of nowhere – a friend and I filmed a video during Covid, posted it and didn’t really think anything of it, and it just blew up and we went with it,” she said.

“But lately I’ve been more focused on the athlete side of me and showing that and all the hard work that goes in behind the scenes, because it’s not just what they see on TV. It’s hard and I’ve made a lot of sacrifices.

“But I think it’s important to also switch off and be with my friends from school – I prioritize soccer whenever I need to be doing something for myself and to better my football, but I still get the opportunity to hang out with my friends too.

“Through my whole childhood I’ve dreamt of being a professional footballer and never really thought I’d do anything else, so it feels pretty real – it’s always been a dream.” Alongside her vigorous training schedule she has one year left of a Sport and Exercise Science degree at UTS, and also works at a local cafe.

While female sports have come a long way in Australia in recent years, there’s still a way to go for them to reach the status of the men’s league, she said.

“Most of the girls in my team either work or go to uni still, like I do, and I also do some coaching sometimes,” said Rule, who graduated from Reddam House in Woollahra in 2020.

“It’s all going well, but you definitely have to balance it well with football because that and uni are both pretty hard work and takes a lot of time.

“I think the main goal for us would be just trying to give women the opportunity to make football their full-time job and be able to earn enough to give their everything into it and not go to work straight after training when you’re tired. I mean studying is fine, but having to do work and stuff is pretty hard on us.

“I think being able to do what the boys do and make it their full time job would be really good – I hope I can just do football as my career.

“We’ve come a long way, but if you compare us to the boys, there’s so much more we can do, even if you compare us to overseas too, there’s so much more we can do as well.”

Despite being separated, her parents live in the same eastern suburbs apartment complex, so she floats between the two, depending on “wherever has the food”, she laughed.

Her goal is to wear the Matildas kit and in a few years try her foot at playing overseas, like many of her friends do.

“Seeing what’s happening in England right now is crazy. They’re

getting sold out stadiums for their games, and I think it’s important for that to happen in Australia,” said Rule, who played for the Young Matildas in the U17s and U20s.

“Because most of our Matildas play overseas, I think that’s hard for our league … so I feel like we’ve got a lot more to do in Australia, but we’re on the right track.

“I was watching the Matildas play England and it’s so crazy seeing the stadium was sold out and it’s so cool to see how much it’s grown to be honest, and having the World Cup here is really exciting.

“Eventually going overseas to play in a big club over there would be a dream as well like a big English team like Chelsea or Arsenal or something like that would be really cool.”

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