Giant leap for women’s footy.
Similar to what is already in place with the TSL and Mariners programs, the Female Football Academy has been slated to provide a talent pathway for Tasmanian female football players to achieve the elite level and remain in the state.
It will be intially based in Hobart and, in a further boost, talks have been held with AFL side North Melbourne about how it might be able to support the academy and the development of female football in the state.
AFL Tasmania CEO Scott Wade said this reflected the growth of women’s football.
“Women’s football is our biggest growth market in terms of participation,” he said.
“I was at a meeting in Darwin recently and Gill (Gillon McLachlan AFL CEO) said he wants a national women’s competition by 2017 and while he might be a bit ambitious we have to be well positioned for when that comes along.”
Wade said as part of this, he wants to see a 10-team women’s TSL up and running soon.“Women’s football is our biggest growth market in terms of participation.”
“We would like to be fully aligned with the existing 10-club brand so they have a men’s team and a women’s team in a state league. The challenge with both is to build from the top down and bottom up.”
One player hoping a 10-team female state league is established soon is Devonport’s Danielle Dunstone, who only recently became the first female junior development officer in the state.
“I think it will be good … 10 teams will be a challenge but we need to get the younger girls involved,” she said.
At the moment, Tasmania’s statewide women’s league has seven sides.
Wade said he hoped the women’s game in Tasmania would grow to an extent where it can compete with more established sports such as netball for the best female athletes in the state.
“I know there are some rusted-on footy people, maybe I was one of them a few years ago, who struggle to come to grips on how women can play AFL and we’re at the point where why can’t women play AFL? It’s a great game for men and women,” he said.
“We want to take on sports like netball and pinch their best athletes to come and play AFL.”
The selection of the players that will make up the academy will begin when Tasmania hosts its inaugural Female All Stars game in Evandale on May 16