In a league of their own

GIRLS will now have an outlet for their football passion when a new Gippsland youth girls Australian Rules football competition, targeted at 13 to 18 year-olds, kicks off this weekend.

Four teams representing Bairnsdale Football Netball Club, Traralgon’s Cumberland Park Junior FC, Morwell Tigers JFC and Warragul Colts JFC will take part in the launch.

The teams will play for 10 Sundays and finish with a grand final and consolation play-off.

Australian Football League Victoria female football development manager Chyloe Kurdas said the competition was launched after the success of a six-week pilot program last year, which 45 girls participated in.

“The girls played, but they didn’t represent existing clubs last year, so we worked hard over the summer to get clubs on board and to take ownership of the girls teams,” Kurdas said.

“So the girls represent their club just like any other team, they wear the colours and play on a Sunday.”

Kurdas said the girls’ levels of experience varied from first timers to pilot participants to previous under 14 footballers.

She said she hoped the competition could grow to include more clubs and AFL Victoria was aiming for eight teams.

She said further opportunities for participants included representing the state in the Under 16 School Girls team, participating in a development program in Sandringham or progressing to senior women’s football.

“The closest senior women’s team is in Berwick, but in the long term we’d hope to be able to have a side from a club in Gippsland, maybe Traralgon,” Kurdas said.

Round one kicks off at Jack Canavan Oval, Traralgon on Sunday from 1.45pm with Bairnsdale playing Morwell and Cumberland Park taking on Warragul.