Hall of Fame: Jane Oakley

Jane Oakley

Born in England in 1966, Jane Oakley grew up in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and began her football journey with Dandenong North in 1980. Although a late comer to the sport, she was quick to establish her presence as a midfielder and would soon impress enough to earn representation with the Victorian state team in 1983. She would earn the first of 28 caps for Australia the following year, commencing a decade long run as a mainstay with the national team.

Oakley’s swansong as a national representative doubled as her crowning achievement in 1995, as Australia embarked upon its World Cup campaign in Sweden. She played in all three matches against Denmark, China and the United States and although they would each result in defeats, the tournament proved pivotal in the evolution of the Australian team.

Victoria 1986 State Team
Jane Oakley (top row, middle) was a stalwart of the Victorian state team. Source: VWSA Facebook page.

With an eye to a life after her playing career, Oakley became an accredited coach in 1985, and by 1990, commenced employment as a Development Officer for the Victorian Soccer Federation (VS). She had become an outstanding role model and the face of women’s football in Victoria in the 1980s and 1990s. Her photograph, together with Paul Wade, was on posters in every club throughout the state and she volunteered much of her time promoting the game.

Australia 1994 National Women's Team
Jane Oakley (standing, far right) with the 1994 Australian Women's National Team before a friendly with Japan at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Oakley took on head coaching roles for representative teams with the VSF and Victorian Women’s Soccer Association in the mid 1990’s and became Assistant Coach of Australia’s Under 19’s squad in 1998, followed by the Head Coach role of the National Under 16’s team. She was the assistant coach of the Matildas when they competed in the Australia Cup in 2000 and served as Head Coach of the Women’s National Training Centre (NTC) in Victoria between 1999 and 2004, where she worked closely with Ernie Merrick who was at the helm of the Men’s football program at the Victorian Institute of Sport.

Jane Oakley, FV Life Member
Jane Oakley, with her Football Victoria Life Membership plaque in 2014.

Among those who benefited from her coaching included accomplished Matilda Melissa Barbieri, Victoria Vision and Melbourne Victory star Sarah Groenewald, Weinstein medallist and former Matilda Selin Kurulay and Gold Medal winner Louisa Bisby. The award for best NTC player every year was named in her honour. 

Oakley received an Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and was inducted into the Football Australia Hall of Fame in 2004. 

Oakley was awarded Life Membership of Football Victoria in 2014.