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On Thursday 16 September the South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) held a Change Our Game Female Leadership Forum. The event was supported by SMJFL Major Partner Monash University, SMJFL Premier Partner Reflex and the Victorian Government’s Change Our Game Community Activation Grants Program.

The SMJFL are proud supporters of the ‘Change Our Game’ initiative.

The forum aimed to celebrate female leaders in our community and provide an opportunity for female players to be heard.

This was to help determine both the enablers and barriers to participation and then to use this information to develop a leadership program with mentoring opportunities specific to SMJFL young female players.

The event was held online via Zoom and was attended by 24 girls, between the ages of 15 and 18, from 16 of our 25 member clubs.

The event was hosted by League Ambassador and former St Kilda AFLW coach Peta Searle OAM.

“It was a great opportunity to meet and hear from the girls in the SMJFL. They had great insight which will be valuable for us to help create better football environments for female participation and growth of the individual.” Searle said.

Searle was joined by Chelsea Roffey, the first female AFL Grand Final umpire, as well as multiple other special guests.

Also in attendance were AFLW stars, St Kilda AFLW Co-Captain Cat Phillips, St Kilda AFLW 2020 Best and Fairest winner Liv Vesely, and Western Bulldogs AFLW Vice-Captain Brooke Lochland.

Participants were provided the opportunity to ask the special guests questions via group workshops and a panel discussion.

SMJFL Chief Executive Officer, Sarah Loh said the league was proud to be able to provide a forum for the players within the SMJFL

“I was thrilled to meet and hear from the young players within our league. It was delightful to hear from such an inspiring group of girls.” Loh said.

The main purpose of the evening was to gain a better understanding of how the SMJFL can support young females in their football environment and to discuss the upcoming launch of the league’s female leadership program, which aims to provide them with the confidence and skills to make a difference.

The SMJFL wants to provide more opportunities and a voice for young female players on and off the field. Events such as this are crucial in assisting the league in creating a more positive and supportive environment for girls in football.

It was a beneficial night for all involved as the SMJFL was able to get an insight from current players in the league regarding female inclusion and leadership.