By Mollie Tracey
Girls-only football teams are making their mark in Auskick for the first time in WA – even though the league has been booming in Victoria for almost 30 years.
Eight new Perth suburban teams for players in years 4-6 (or ages 9 to 11) provide a non-threatening environment for girls to pursue football early on.
Subiaco Lions district development officer Matt Debarro, who organised the league in Perth, says the all-girls competition for juniors helps even the playing field between boys and girls.
A similar competition began in football-mad Melbourne in 1988.
“We were missing that whole segment of footy that the boys currently have,” Debarro says.
“We wanted to make sure that girls have that pathway to play footy like a lot of other sports already have. We are sort of the last sport to tap into that market.”
Fremantle Dockers mid-fielder Emily Bonser is pleased to hear of a girl’s junior league in WA to create equal opportunities for boys and girls in football and to help girls develop social skills.
“To have exactly the same as the boys means it’s going to benefit us from making the AFLW – which has only got eight teams – pushing it more to try and get it to 18 teams,” Bonser says.
Those leagues at grassroots are important as that’s where the development is going to come from.”
Volunteer Jeremy Jury took on the coaching role of the Carine Cats junior girls after previously coaching his teenage son. Jury says the transition to coach young girls is challenging but rewarding.
“It’s really back to basics with the girls and starting right from the beginning,” Jury says.
Debarro expects the league to grow at least 20 per cent in numbers next season, with bigger field sizes and possibly more teams.
Local teams in the league include Kingsway Teal, Kingsway Black, Balga Bombers, Warwick Greenwood Knights, Carine Cats, Stirling Angles, Stirling Saints, and Kingsley Cats. They play on Fridays at Grenville Reserve at 4:45pm.
Watch the video below to see girls in action: