Stories of Female Football Week: Athena Babo

Women and girls make an incredible contribution to our game, both on and off the pitch. Throughout Female Football Week (1-10 May), we will be sharing YOUR stories to celebrate this contribution with the wider Victorian football community. 

Today, Alexandra Hoskins pays tribute to Athena Babo, the Pascoe Vale FC legend who has become renown as an advocate for human rights and diversity. 

It would be rare to visit Pascoe Vale FC without bumping into Athena Babo (nee Tona), current Secretary of the club. Athena’s family were the founding members of the Pascoe Vale Football Club in 1966 and since then, the club has been her second home.

Driven by a passion for community and inclusion, Athena has played a vital role in building the culture and reputation of the club. She was fittingly recognised at the 2019 Victorian Sports Awards as the “Volunteer of the Year”. Apart from this outstanding public recognition, another one of her successes has been achieving the Football Victoria 5 Star Club Award in 2018, the only NPL 1 Club to win the Award.

But the success story that the broader public would know Athena for was her work in defending human rights during the #SaveHakeem case. The case was a world first and the first of its kind in Australian Football.

Hakeem al-Araibi is part of the Pascoe Vale FC family and when he was detained in Thailand, Athena worked 19 hours a day. She lobbied tirelessly on behalf of Hakeem and his family to help secure his release. Athena played an instrumental role in bringing Hakeem home. 

Through her selfless contributions and determination, Pascoe Vale FC is at the forefront of inclusion and diversity. The club boasts a fast-growing number of female football teams with a clear vision and roadmap to have its girls’ teams competing in the junior and senior NPL in the near future.

Athena is an inspirational leader who is looked up to by people at the club and the wider community.  Athena demonstrates the ability to think and act in the best interests of women and girls, the sport, the club, and the broader community and we celebrate her outstanding achievements during Female Football Week.