Golden Point female footballers  in for the long haul

GAB Leckie is pumped to finally have a whole team of senior players out training at White Flat Oval every session she pulls on her footy boots.

Sure Gab is excited to have senior players to look up to, but having them out on the field opens a whole new set of possibilities for Gab.

She could be a Pointie for as long as she likes.

Golden Point’s junior boys teams went into recess last year due to dwindling player numbers and struggles for volunteers.

But the Dragons continue to breathe fire, but through the booming ranks of women’s football.

Point is one of the Ballarat Football League’s founding youth girls clubs and, in its fourth year, joins Redan as the first BFL clubs to enter an open-age women’s team in the restructured Victorian Women’s Football League.

Tapping into the growing demand for girls’ football, Point will also introduce an all-inclusive female friendly Auskick program.

Women’s football is effectively keeping the club alive.

“It gives me a pathway,” says Gab, who joined a long, decorated Point football history last season by becoming the club’s first female footballer to chalk up 100 games.

“I don’t have to change teams any more when I get too old for youth girls. I could make 200 or 300 games for Point.

“... Apparently I bleed blue-and-white.”

The 14-year-old has been pulling on a Point jumper for six years.

Her younger sister Brooklyn Leckie has not missed a training session with the youth girls this pre-season.

Still too young to play – Brooklyn is only 11 – she ran water for the team last season and will become a fully-fledged player this year in Auskick.

Brooklyn can hardly wait.

“I’m looking forward to it,” she said.

“It’s good to be finally able to train and play in my own team.

“This is my first year. I’ve really only just been kicking the footy with Gab before.”

BFL operations manager Aaron Nunn said it was fantastic to see and help Point reinvent itself via the fastest growing sectors of football – women’s football – and the BFL too was keen to help develop and offer playing opportunities for women.

“Point’s really found its niche now and it’s a good fit for them,” Nunn said.

“They made the decision to move forward into female football and now, with Redan, have taken the plunge into women’s football.

“... Our vision for women’s football is to try and build up enough opportunity and interest in women’s footy to see the development of the WBFL.

“We need a base and the only way to do that is via the Victorian Women’s Football League at the moment. Whether it takes two, three or up to seven or eight years, that’s what we’re moving towards.”

Kristie Goodie has always been interested in health, fitness and team sports but not really the traditional girls’ sports.

Kristie wanted to play football.

She heard about Point’s new women’s team by word of mouth, and is preparing to suit up for her first season.

“Why not start now?” Kristie said.

“People around me can’t wait – my parents, my grandparents all want to see me play.

“I love coming to training. It’s a really supportive environment with coaches giving help.

“The girls are all getting to know each other. We’ve had the team together out for dinner a couple of times – and it’s nice to be a founding women’s player.”

Point star Jenna Bruton, drafted to Western Bulldogs for the inaugural AFL women’s match, has been training with Point’s open squad as she plots her next move after graduating from youth girls.

The excitement and enthusiasm at White Flat Oval is a stark contrast to the quiet, small group that turned up for the club’s first youth girls training session she attended four years ago. Long-time Pointie Darren Wright will coach the inaugural women’s team.

Wright has been involved in club talks for about two years to help make this a reality.

Well versed in junior coaching, Wright is impressed with how his new team is forming.

“I just love coaching girls’ footy ... most boys think they already know everything, whereas the girls just want to learn,” Wright said.

“I’m amazed how well the senior girls have gelled. Some haven’t ever played before.”

Point female football director Kerrie Leckie has long been championing new opportunities for female football at her club.

Abut 16 players have registered for the open team, a further 16 in youth girls and Leckie said this was just the beginning.

The season openers are about two months away.

“Some girls are training in the club hoodie with the new Dragons’ logo, others in the training singlet – we’re just like any other football club,” Leckie said.

“It’s all about ownership.

“This is their club. This is who they are.

“Just like Point players before them, all wear the jumpers with pride.”

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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