AFL Active is a group fitness session encouraging women to get moving that has taken off across the state.
Instructor Melinda Sands is looking to run the sessions in Ballarat.
She said the VicHealth initiative was aimed at all fitness levels and while footballs were used in the sessions, the focus was on circuit based activity rather than skill.
“The whole thing behind it is it is just getting women moving in our community, meeting new people and having fun,” she said. “It is having the opportunity to be able to use the balls without the pressure of ‘I can’t kick’ or ‘I can’t do this’.”
Sands held a free trial session on International Women’s Day last week, which attracted a mix of local female footballers and new faces.
The women enjoyed a barbecue following the session and also brought along old bras to donate to Project Uplift.
“It is a fantastic cause, where all the donations go overseas to women who can’t necessarily afford their own bras,” Sands said.
Sands also runs a personal training business called Own Your Game, which supports female footballers in the Ballarat region.
“I’ve been working with the local footy girls, running a preseason for them,” she said.
“I’m moving towards the end of my career so I want to do what I can to help the younger girls coming through. They can play for any club and we will look after them throughout the season as well and add recovery sessions.”
Sands played locally for Redan Women’s Football team before completing an AFL preseason.
While she was unsuccessful in the AFL Women’s draft, she currently plays for VFL team VU Western Spurs.
She said there were now a lot of pathways for women who wanted to pursue football further and could help them find and train for a local club.
But Sands said her sessions were just as much about women putting themselves first and finding a support network of friends as they were about exercise.
“Exercise for mental health as well as physical health is huge,” she said.
“I think as women we often tend to put everybody before ourselves, so getting out and doing something for yourself before you give all of yourself to other people is so important.”