This weekend the VAFA and the AFL acknowledges the valuable contribution women make to Australian football and in particular to our clubs in the Association.
Women play a vital role at football clubs, volunteering their time and its fair to say we all rely on that dedication.
It is important to recognise this round to ensure the future involvement of women at all levels of the game.
Not only do women play a part as volunteers or administrators, but they also play, umpire and coach the game we love.
Today women’s Australian rules football is the fastest growing sector of the game with more than 85,000 registered female players around the country, 700 female umpires and 1500 accredited female coaches. By the year 2020, the AFL is aiming to have a national women’s competition.
Women coaching in at higher levels of the game is something we will see more of and this trend has started this year with the appointment of Peta Searle as the Port Melbourne Assistant Coach in the VFL.
Peta has an enormous list of accolades to her name already; coaching a record five straight premierships with Darebin Falcons Women’s Football club in the VWFL, is the VWFL state coach, a Victorian representative player, and played over 100 games in the VWFL as well.
The AFL’s only female umpire Chelsea Roffey is a true role model to all females who are currently umpiring or want to get involved in this area of the game.
This year at the Umpire Appreciation day at Williamstown CYMS Football Club, Chelsea spoke proudly about her pathway into umpiring and her successes.
There was one line she mentioned during her presentation that resonated through the room, “Umpires need guts, not balls”.
It summed up how female umpires are more than capable umpiring in the AFL system and can play a major role in all areas of the game.
Chelsea’s persistence, dedication and passion with her goal umpiring has paid off for her, not only has she umpired in many blockbuster games, but she just missed out on umpiring the 2011 AFL Grand Final.
Hopefully this year will be her year and she will live the dream of umpiring on AFL Grand Final day.
There is no doubt the role for women in football has an exciting future in all aspects of the game, and it is one that we should all be looking forward too.
Enjoy the day ladies, whether it be because you have a formal job to or if you just do it for the love of the game.
Olivia plays in the Victorian Women’s Football League (VWFL) each week for the Eastern Devils and works at the VAFA.