Vicki Bugden with her two daughters Kelli-Ann (left) and Lisa.
Vicki Bugden with her two daughters Kelli-Ann (left) and Lisa.

VB pioneer of women's soccer

Longevity in anything is the ultimate test of how committed an individual is to a cause and Vicki Bugden (nee Kraus) certainly fits this category. As a pioneer in local soccer, having been in one of the four original female teams that were formed in this region, way back in 1974, Vicki recalls how females were prohibited to play unless they were considered of satisfactory skill level. An initial four teams – Rovers, Thistles, Goonellabah and College – comprised the very first female soccer competition and with these teams consisting of players aged from 11 to adult, it was very different to age and graded female competition that exist these days.

Vicki played consecutively until 2002 (except for four seasons when she was pregnant) and came back to play this year to join her two daughters Lisa, 24, and Kelli-Ann, 21. Also in the team are niece Melissa Kennedy and eldest son Bobby’s partner, Brooke Hickey, making it a real family effort.

Team mates and opponents may not recognise that whilst Vicki mainly plays in goals these days, she was a speedy striker in her hey day and represented the region with distinction. Whilst lots of people are involved as players for many years, Vicki’s involvement as a coach since 1979 and as an administrator with Lismore Richmond Rovers saw her duly recognised in 2001 by that club with life membership. This was actually a second life membership for Vicki, who was given this honour by FNC Amateur Women’s Soccer Association. Many aspects of Vicki’s life have a soccer influence and when former top grade player Brian Bugden (who played in the successful Rovers 1975 State Cup squad) decided to coach the women’s side in 1980, Vicki took a shine to him and the couple subsequently married and had four children. Sons Bobby and Brad are also talented players with Bobby in the current Rovers premier squad and Brad in the junior boy’s competition.

Amongst the many legacies that Vicki has given local soccer is her contribution to the sport as a journalist on women’s soccer between 1993 and 2002.

Vicki is one of the most devoted individuals in the game locally and true to her gracious manner mentioned Val Dowse and Sue Wraight as other women who have a long history in the sport. Both still play and have so almost continuously since about 1976.

Vicki Bugden has seen local soccer evolve through many changes and her commitment to women’s football and the game will ensure that her name is etched into the history books forever.

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