Polytechnic women’s football team

Seven women standing and seated in football uniforms, including long striped dresses and caps, one holding a football. Embroidered onto their dresses and printed on the ball is the word Polytechnic. Standing with them is a man in a suit.

Despite the name of the team, these women were not representing an educational institution, but an Ōamaru drapers, Polytechnic. They may have been employees of the firm, the name of which is embroidered on their dresses.

During the First World War, sports tournaments were organised in Otago and elsewhere to raise funds for the war effort. Five women’s seven-a-side football teams, including this Polytechnic team, competed in a multi-sport tournament at Maheno in October 1917. The local team won the ‘ladies’ soccer’ competition.  

Left to right: Marjory Kidd (spelled Kydd on another photo), Emily Marks, Bessie Wilson, Syd Austin, Marple Steele, Mabel Brooker, Grace Meikle. Centre: Mabel Simpkin.

Sydney Austin, shown in this picture, worked for Polytechnic before the war as a draper. He served on the Western Front and was wounded in France in 1916, returning to Ōamaru not long before this photo was taken. He was probably the coach of the team.

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