Brett Connell – VAFA CEO
This weekend brings a close to what will go down in VAFA history as one of the most successful ventures in our 125 years of existence – our first entry into women’s football, proudly sponsored from the outset by Wilson Group.
Who would’ve thought that the VAFA, in its 125th year, would open the season with a women’s game under lights – and what a crowd and event it was at Boss James Reserve in Hampton.
From then on the milestones have been coming thick and fast.
The VAFA were ahead of the curve last year when they decided to start a women’s competition in 2017. We held an official launch in July and soon after appointed a Women’s Football Development Manager.
Later in the year, after 35 years of existence, the Victorian Women’s Football League was dismantled and the teams were distributed throughout the Community Leagues. Four of our own member clubs fielded teams in the VWFL and those teams now form the backbone of our William Buck Women’s Premier section. However, the overwhelming majority of our 40 team women’s competition are start-up teams from our existing member clubs. This is a credit to our strong and progressive football community who have embraced the opportunity and haven’t looked back.
Thirty-five VAFA clubs have fielded 40 women’s teams across five divisions, with even more clubs indicating that they will enter a team in 2018. AFL CEO, Gil McLachlan, called it a revolution, but a tsunami has swept through the VAFA this season and this weekend it reaches a wonderful home-and-away conclusion.
For the record, 1,956 women have registered and played across the season and our very first Women’s Big V team comfortably defeated AFL Goldfields in July.
While this weekend signifies the conclusion for a number of our teams, much celebrating will take place over the next month as finals begin in earnest from next week. On the weekend of August 19 and 20, the VAFA will host its first women’s Grand Finals. On the Saturday the 19th, Development Divisions 2 and 4 will battle it out for premiership honours at Trevor Barker Oval, Sandringham; and on the Sunday the 20th, the triple header at Sportscover Arena, Elsternwick, will see a day of great footy when teams from the William Buck Premier and Development Divisions 1 and 3 will fight for their respective premierships cups. There is sure to be a big crowd and a great atmosphere on both days.
While celebrating team success is what our game is built around, we will also recognise and reward individual B & Fs, Leading Goal kickers and our inaugural Anytime Fitness Women’s Rising star. The gala night is scheduled for Monday August 14 at The Park on Albert Park Lake. With regards to the women’s development division best and fairest counts, 96.5 Inner FM will live broadcast the counts from 8-10 pm on Wednesday August 9, with all winners interviewed live on radio!
This season has taught us a lot: we’ve learned that VAFA clubs and supporting partners (Wilson Group, William Buck and Anytime Fitness) are willing to take on new and exciting opportunities, to break new ground and continually drive change. Our first foray into women’s footy has been a success by every measure, and as we continue to grow in the coming years, I know that we ALL stand for improving the product that is VAFA Wilson Women’s football.
A huge thank you to the clubs, volunteers, players, coaches, umpires, rep coaches, support staff and supporting partners – you can all be justifiably proud of having contributed to a history making season of VAFA Football, well done to you all.
Round 14 also marks the ‘Love The Game’ Round, an initiative of our partnership with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. This round focuses on promoting responsible gambling and to enjoy our great game without worrying about the odds. The growing amount of gambling advertising targeted heavily at our playing group demographic is leading to the normalisation of gambling in sports, which is a concern to all sporting communities. Normalising gambling can lead people to experience gambling-related harm without even realising they’re going down a rocky road. This week, we encourage all players, spectators and participants to consider the impact gambling and gambling advertising is having on the way their club and communities experience sport in order to help minimise its impact.
Have a super weekend at the footy and get along to show support your club and your love of our great game.