There are few people in Australia who can boast that they’ve been a part of the Hyundai A-League since day one, but Brisbane Roar’s Community Football Coordinator Rozanne Burley is one of them.
Burley applied to be a volunteer for Roar home matches in 2005 and since then, her position has evolved to one of the busiest and most varied roles within the football club, playing a key part alongside Community Manager Andy Pinches in building the club’s Pauls Roar Active Program across Queensland.
“I feel really lucky to be a part of the community team,” she said.
“The Pauls Roar Active Program has grown from one small team and now we have got dedicated teams of coaches on the north side and south side of Brisbane and we hold an annual trip up the Queensland coast as well.
“We get a lot of children who have never played football before so it’s great when I get phone calls and emails later from parents saying their kids enjoyed it so much – I direct them to their nearest football club. These kids are the next generation of footballers.”
Burley also works as part of the casual events team at the Gabba for cricket and AFL fixtures as well as teaching five gym classes a week. Sport, not just football, has provided Burley with the strong support network and balance she needs in her sometimes hectic life.
Burley’s eldest sons, Daniel, 25, and Michael, 20, both still play football for Southside Eagles and Rochedale Rovers. Her 14-year-old son Adam, suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet’s Syndrome, which causes uncontrollable seizures and intellectual impairment.
She is his sole carer and also manages to fit in her busy schedule time to actively support the cause of Epilepsy Queensland, the organisation that diagnosed Adam six years ago after years of uncertainty about his condition.
“I’ve always loved sport, and it’s all great because it just keeps me busy. My Adam, his form of epilepsy is quite aggressive and debilitating,” she explained.
“When he was younger, I put my life on hold trying to manage his condition and that’s when I realised I needed to keep myself busy to try and keep my mind off everything that goes on at home with him.
“We see him suffer daily with seizures but this role at the club, working with Andy, Martin [Wilkes] and Marco [Ahlrichs], and the buzz of game day – it just keeps me going.”
Speaking ahead of International Women’s Day this Sunday, Burley said she’s has seen the role of women in local football clubs grow over the past 20 years and puts that down to plenty of hard work, the inception of the Westfield W-League and the success of the Roar Women over the years.
“We’re seeing a lot more girls join at an early age, we get clubs approaching us about girls’ only clinics where they can bring a friend to try and help encourage more to join,” Burley said.
“It’s great to see – our W-League team is so successful, lots of them also play for the Matildas, and they are great role models for the young footballers that do the Roar Active Program.”
Popular in local football circles, Burley was also recently recognised as a one of 50 local legends by Jim Chalmers, Queensland MP for Rankin, for her contribution to the Brisbane football community, Epilepsy Queensland and Brisbane Roar Football Club.