AFL GOLDFIELDS is working to develop an open-age women’s football team in the region.
The Courier understands Goldfields leagues are working with the established North Ballarat Eagles women’s football club to build a second club for women footballers as the game continues to boom through youth league competitions.
Ballarat Football League’s youth girls competition will have 26 graduating players this season.
BFL operations manager Aaron Nunn said it was important that there were clear pathways for players to senior ranks – and soon – encouraging them to keep playing the game and ensuring they could get a game, especially while women’s football was so popular.
The BFL launched its inaugural youth girls competition, for girls aged 13-18, in July 2011. Redan, Sebastopol, Golden Point and Ballarat fielded teams for a six-week season plus finals.
In the past two years, the league has expanded to include Lake Wendouree, Bacchus Marsh, Darley, Riddell’s Creek, Gisborne and Ararat.
Nunn said although the youth league was run and administered by the BFL, it was a regional competition and already included teams from other leagues and regions that did not have established youth girls leagues.
The BFL is already fielding interest from other clubs in possibly joining next season.
Nunn said the Goldfields region, AFL Victoria and the Eagles had to work together to plot the best way to keep women’s football growing.
Goldfields officials met with AFL Victoria female football manager Chyloe Kurdas last week in a three-hour session to plan more ways for girls to get involved in the game.
Areas under consideration include the development of all-girl Auskick centres in the region, the possible establishment of an under-12 girls competition and, when the league was big enough, splitting the youth girls into under-15 and under-18 divisions.
The AFL and its state governing bodies are working towards a national women’s football league in 2020.
Melbourne and Western Bulldogs fielded teams in the first AFL-sanctioned women’s match at the MCG last month.