Lynley Muller steps off the pitch after playing her fourth-ever soccer game.

The Adelaide Jaguars player is embraced by her two children, who have spent the afternoon watching their mother fill in as goalkeeper after a last-minute team reshuffle.

“I’m finally in my element,” the division six player says as she beams from the sidelines, after saving multiple goals.

“I could yell down the field and tell the team they’re doing a great job, encourage them and then all of a sudden, it was like: game on, get in the zone.”

Ms Muller is one of just under 1,300 South Australian girls and women who have either returned to soccer or started playing the sport for the first time this year.

Clubs across the state attribute the 24 per cent player spike to the so-called “Matildas effect” — the phenomenon which rippled across the country during last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Adelaide Jaguars are South Australia’s largest women’s soccer club.(ABC News: Brant Cumming)

Matildas momentum is once again set to spread across Adelaide this week, ahead of the team’s clash against China at Adelaide Oval on Friday.

For players like Ms Muller, it’s an opportunity to see their heroes up close.

“If I hadn’t watched [Matildas midfielder] Katrina Gorry and her fight, her struggle as a mum … being able to bring her daughter to games, bringing her family as part of her journey, I would not have joined up,” she says.

‘The Matildas inspire me’

This year, about 120 new players joined the Adelaide Jaguars — South Australia’s biggest female-only soccer club, located in Adelaide’s west.

Many of the new recruits joined the senior community women’s league.

One of them is Emilie Jones, who swapped ballet shoes for soccer boots to join the Jags’ division six team.

Emilie Jones says she swapped ballet for soccer.(ABC News: Brant Cumming)

Like Ms Muller, she was inspired by the Matildas’ World Cup success.

“I was a competitive dancer before this, so soccer was never on the cards for me,” Ms Jones says.

“I’ve always grown up watching the men play AFL on TV and [the World Cup] was my first time actually seeing women’s soccer, or a women’s sport being so highly talked about.

“I thought, maybe I could give that a go.”

The Jags have also experienced a big jump in the number of junior players.

Lilly Storrie, 9, joined the club after watching her favourite Matildas players Sam Kerr and Ellie Carpenter play in the World Cup.

“The Matildas inspire me,” she says.

“My dad used to play [soccer] and when the Matildas came on, I just started playing.”

‘We’ve turned away about 100 players’

According to Football SA, an additional 65 women’s and girls’ teams are playing in local competitions this year compared to last.

But not all aspiring players have found it easy to join a team.

Some clubs are turning players away due to a lack of pitches, coaches and equipment.

Lilly Storrie started playing soccer after watching her favourite Matildas players.(ABC News: Brant Cumming)

“We’ve turned away about 100 players from Adelaide Jaguars because we are at capacity,” club chairperson Bronny Brooks says.

“That makes us a bit sad, to be honest, because we want to be a place for every woman and every girl to play, but we literally don’t have the resources to be able to accommodate those players.”

Football SA CEO Michael Carter says there is currently a limit to how many new players can be accommodated by clubs.

“Many clubs are turning away players on an annual basis through the trial process because they simply can’t cater for them,” he says.

“It’s a good position to be in because the popularity of the game is good, but … we need to look at alternative competitions, social competitions, indoor, outdoor, and consider how we’re going to do that moving forward.”

Local clubs lack ‘basic needs’

Despite being SA’s biggest female-only soccer club, the Jags do not have a permanent home base.

The club currently leases council-owned pitches at Jubilee Reserve at West Lakes, and Football SA-owned pitches at West Beach.

Ms Brooks says to help it accommodate more players, the club has advocated across all levels of government for a permanent home ground, but it hasn’t found a solution.

Bronny Brooks says there is a lack of land to house the club.(ABC News: Brant Cumming)

“Most of our coaches have equipment in their cars,” she says.

“All of those basic club needs we just don’t have.”

Part of the issue, Ms Brooks says, is a lack of land.

“There’s a lot of urban infill in the western suburbs and I think the green space is at capacity,” she says.

“This is actually our 15th anniversary this year, so the land space that was available to women’s sports at that time, to create a club and to have an ability to grow, was quite minimal.”

Mr Carter agrees that open space in Adelaide’s west is at a “premium”, with the region already accommodating several soccer clubs.

“Nearly every club that I’m speaking to — and there’s over 300 in the state — are looking for new grounds, so it’s a big challenge,” he says.

Questions over SA government grant program

During the Women’s World Cup last year, the SA government announced it would spend $18 million over the next three years on a new grant program, called “Power of Her”, to grow women’s sport.

Of that money, $10 million was quarantined for soccer, and $2.8 million was unlocked in the first grant round.

“If you’re serious about backing girls and women in sport, you need to work to help ensure they have the facilities that are appropriate, the facilities that they deserve,” SA Sport Minister Katrine Hildyard says.

“A large part of that funding was about the development, the building, the improvement of facilities to make sure that girls could equally and actively participate.”

Mr Carter says Football SA has given the government a guarantee that it will assist in matching the $10 million for women’s soccer.

Michael Carter says there is currently a limit to how many new players clubs can accommodate.(ABC News: Brant Cumming)

The government received 62 applications in the first grant round.

Of those, 13 came from soccer clubs or other organisations seeking to improve women’s soccer facilities.

Ms Brooks says the Jags were ineligible to apply for an infrastructure grant, as the club does not own land or have landowner consent to build or upgrade facilities.

“It’s not designed for a club that does not have any access to land space — you have to have that to start with,” she says.

“It hasn’t solved all problems.”

‘Nobody has come up with an answer yet’

But Ms Hildyard says the Jags were eligible to apply.

“They do have an issue around a permanent home,” she says.

“I’ve asked my office and the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing to work with them to establish that permanent home.

“I know those conversations are happening and I’m really pleased that we are able to work alongside them as they work toward that.”

Katrine Hildyard says her office is working to find the Adelaide Jaguars a home.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Mr Carter says clubs can share facilities.

“We know there’s a lot of pressures on the Jags, we’ve spoken to the club, we’re very supportive of the club, but we need to be patient,” he says.

“We just need to work very carefully with every party possible to achieve the outcome that we need.”

Ms Brooks says she is hopeful the Jags will find a permanent home in the coming 12 months.

She says until a solution is reached, the club will continue to be a “squeaky wheel”.

“We’ll continue to show our growth, continue to be positive,” she says.

“We hope that at some point, somebody will be like: ‘This is a club that needs help’.

“We have had good conversations, but nobody has come up with an answer yet.”

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