THE fastest growing sport in Australia today, women’s football, kicked off a new era in South Gippsland and Bass Coast last Sunday when AFL Gippsland welcomed three new teams into the fold.
Joining Dalyston in the new Western division of the AFL Gippsland Youth Girls League were Poowong/Loch and Leongatha with Phillip Island due to start its season this Sunday after a first round bye.
And if the action at both the Dalyston and Poowong footy ovals last Sunday was anything to go by, the local comp has a great future.
At Dalyston, the youth girls from the home side and the visiting Warragul team played an entertaining, 15-a-side brand of footy which rolled end-to-end all day in an energy-sapping contest.
Dalyston probably won more of the possession than the visiting Lions but was a little more inaccurate in front of goal.
Dalyston was well led by their captain Ally Kershaw in attack, with several goals and some thrilling runs down the flanks. Down back the Magpies relied on full back Jade McDermott to mark and clear the ball numerous times, while Rose Coombs at centre half back was also a winner for the team on the day.
“I was really happy with the way we came back after last season, with the level of skill and the way the girls teamed together today,” said coach Ella Angarane.
“Warragul has clearly improved as well this year, adding one or two very good players but I think we can look forward to a good season as well.”
One of the leading lights in the development of the sport locally, Ella would like to see Dalyston enter an open age women’s team in a south eastern suburban league next year, as a forerunner to developing a comp locally.
“We’ve got the backing of the Dalyston club but it’s certainly not exclusively a Dalyston team. We’d welcome anyone who wants to play.
“About a handful of us play in Melbourne already but I’m confident we can get the numbers we need and initially, travelling to the likes of Warragul, Beaconsfield, Mt Eliza etc is doable for us.”
The development of an open age competition locally fits perfectly into AFL Gippsland’s plans according to local development officer Chelsea Caple who spoke on Radio 3MFM last Saturday extolling the virtues of the women’s game.
“It’s growing incredibly quickly around Australia and here in Gippsland we’re seeing that as well,” said Chelsea.
Ms Caple said that while there were already some senior teams coming out of Gippsland, the emphasis initially was on youth girls who would feed into a senior competition in the years ahead.
She welcomed the expansion of the youth competition locally and said it had the firm backing of AFL Gippsland which introduced a Gippsland Power Girls development squad pre-season and had other plans to support further development of the game.
Several Dalyston girls benefitted from that higher level training, including Ally Kershaw, who has turned that into a leadership role at Dalyston.
Final scores: Dalyston 4.4.28 lost to Warragul 6.1.37
In the other local match, Poowong/Loch didn’t manage to assemble the required number of players on Sunday so between Leongatha and Poowong/Loch, they had a scratch match with just six points between the sides at the end.
Leongatha has 13 registered players but would be keen to hear from anyone aged 14 to 18 who wants to have a go.
“Training starts at 5pm-5.30pm at the main Leongatha oval of a Wednesday night and we’d love to see a few more players come down,” said Naomi Logan.
Phone either Naomi Logan 0408 033 114 or Kayla Bentvelzen 0438 842 699 for further details.
Next week it’s Poowong/Loch versus Warragul at Loch and Phillip Island versus Dalyston at Cowes on Sunday. Leongatha has the bye.
Morwell, Stratford, Southern Suns based at Yarram, Maffra and Traralgon are playing in the AFL Gippsland Youth Girls League and there’s the prospect of a play-off between the divisions at the end of the season.
New era in women’s footy kicks off