Girls football across the SMJFL community continues to grow. The girls team in the SMJFL Interleague took out their first win ever in this year’s competition, with the skill and participation level building across the league.
At the professional end of the spectrum, the second of the two women’s AFL exhibition matches was broadcasted live on Channel 7.
With talks of a national league, the prospects of junior girls playing senior footy are exciting.
Chyloe Kurdas, Female Football Development Manager at AFL Victoria, thinks the levels these girls are now playing is unbelievable.
“It’s quite remarkable the standard of football that these girls play,” Kurdas said.
“We had the Herald Sun Shield girls grand final played as a double-header to an AFL game for the first time ever.
“What that says is that there are more girls taking up more opportunities to play school footy whether that’s to develop their skills or have a kick with their girlfriends or whether it’s playing in competitions.
“If you go and watch youth girls, or even junior girls play on the weekend, the standard of footy is so much better.”
Kurdas also agrees the amount of the girls’ playing footy is building, with every part of the game showing growth.
“It positions us very well for what we hope to achieve next for the national and high performance [games],” Kurdas says.
“We used to just talk youth girls didn’t we?
“But of course now we have junior girls, and of course we have growth in open age women’s footy.”
2015 marks 50 years of women’s participation in AFL, with 35 years of a national women’s league. With the two exhibition matches this year, girls are getting more and more opportunities to play with an increased focus on the game from the AFL.
However the work is certainly far from over if the aim of a national competition is to be realised for female footballers.
“I think a lot of interest is being shown at the top-end, the AFL end which is important. But to complement that, we need to do a lot of work and keep focusing on a really strong base at community level,” Kurdas said.
“We need clubs to commit to putting their hand up and keep having a vertical pathway within their clubs.
“Establishing an under 9s team, that’ll become an under 12s team, then the following year that’ll become an under 15.
You don’t have to do it all at once but you do one bit at a time and what that will do it fuel and seed the next bit and it happens organically.”
Kurdas’ proof of the dominant female interest in football stems from the amount of girls who come to Auskick.
“We have more girls every year across the state coming to Auskick than any other segment of the game every year,” Kurdas said.
“But we’re only retaining about 30 per cent of them.
“We’re getting a touch point in female footy, but we’re not really capitalising on the interest that comes with it.”
However there is plenty that clubs, Auskick centres and players can do to ensure that the environment is beneficial to girls wanting to play football.
“The reason why we’ve had such great growth in female footy across the state in the last 11 and 12 years has been because we’ve set up all female participation experiences within an integrated environment,” Kurdas said
“We need to do the same in Auskick – Where we establish all female groups within a mixed sex Auskick centre.
“Capitalise on that massive interest that comes into Auskick by setting up an all girls group, creating the right environment that girls need and desire, then retaining those girls, moving them into senior footy and the community football pathway.”
“We need about 250,000 community football participants across the country if we’re going to be really strong and viable women’s national league so we’ve got a lot of work to do at community level.”
To get involved, or to hear more about the opportunities for female footballers at SMJFL, check out the ‘South Metro Girls’ information on the website.