Shona MacInnes – Women’s Football & Engagement Manager
Sometimes we look back and question if we had our time over would we have done things differently. Regarding the VAFA women’s footy competition, from its inception last year to where we are now, I can honestly say the answer is no.
In two years, the staff at HQ, our amazing clubs and some 3,000 young women have created the largest women’s football competition in the country. We have provided the opportunity for women of all abilities to play, coach, umpire and administer the game we love in a welcoming and safe environment.
Not only have we grown our competition this year but after our first full pre-season, the increased skill level of our competition has been extraordinary.
Across the Australian rules football industry, we have made everyone stand up and take notice. It is a credit to the motivated and dedicated people of the VAFA.
Not just in our Association but across the AFL and other leagues, the story is the same. Women have had a profound effect on the football community. Behaviour has changed, club revenue has risen, volunteer numbers have gone up and communities have been made stronger. Thursday nights at the clubs is now a packed house. There are new thought processes and very different vibes.
The football landscape has changed irreversibly and for the better. It is an interesting cultural observation that Australian rules football was the last of the codes to progress to this stage, but once the plug was pulled the floodgates opened.
The naysayers have been silenced.
Since the AFL decided women can play our sport at the elite level in 2016, the explosion of women’s football still manages to astound us. In 2010, the total number of dedicated female football teams in Victoria was 58 and now, only nine footy seasons later, it is an astonishing 997.
This week is the first round of finals for our women’s competition. Congratulations to those who made it. To those who didn’t, all of you have achieved so much in such a short time. All clubs should be proud.
Every game is important, but I have highlighted a few here.
St Mary’s Salesian abruptly ended West Brunswick’s undefeated season in the final round last week and these two clash again this week in a compelling second semi in Premier B Blue.
Scotch Stars, who looked unbeatable in Premier B White earlier this season, lost the minor premiership to Beaumaris in the final round of the home and away fixture and will face the Sharks this week.
Division 2 semi-finalists are all new kids on the block. The minor premiers, Old Melburnians, play Old Ivanhoe and Whitefriars take on Williamstown CYMS. Imagine the excitement pre-game for all these new comers.
Another four new teams will battle it out in Division 3. Preston Bullants meet Melbourne Cricket Club Football Club and Powerhouse come up against the fast-finishing Westbourne Grammarians. All four clubs must be congratulated for their hard work establishing these teams and the incredible improvement they have made over the season.
We all love finals and this weekend the energy and excitement and will be irrepressible. Good luck to all the clubs involved.
If we had our time over again would we have done things differently? Most certainly not.