Gippsland girls make history

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GIPPSLAND Power will field its first ever girls team next year at the 2014 V/Line Youth Girls Cup.

The club hosted 40 prospective female players at its information open day at the weekend, following an extensive recruitment drive, which will be cut back to 25 prior to the carnival early next year.

With AFL Victoria working towards establishing a Victorian Women’s Football League next year, an under 18 female TAC Cup equivalent by 2016 and a national competition in 2020, Power talent manager Peter Francis said it was time for Gippsland to step up its female presence.

“With the AFL there’s a huge push with female football so we really needed to do that,” Francis said.

“It’s really just a first time trial and see how we go but I think with women’s football it’s going to grow and grow and grow; we’re really excited about… the opportunity to take them down and have a crack at some of the other regions.”

The group of 40, which includes players from this year’s Gippsland competition, school footballers and first timers, began their fitness programs this week ahead of training at Power headquarters prior to Christmas.

Lavalla Catholic College Traralgon sports co-ordinator Nikki Schroeter will coach the side, with training proper to begin on 25 November.

AFL Victoria female development manager Chyloe Kurdas said the new squad would act as a breeding ground for players to move up in the ever expanding female football scene.

“The formulation of a V/Line Cup team from the Gippsland region will highlight the fact that the representative pathway is now available to girls from Gippsland and that we firmly want them to be a part of that process,” Kurdas said.

“With our plans for a women’s state league next year and a female version of the TAC Cup and even a national competition by 2020, we want Gippsland girls to be represented at all three of those bases long term.”

The move follows on from the success of the inaugural Gippsland girls youth Aussie Rules competition this season.

Kurdas said there were plans to expand the local competition by two teams next season, with a second Bairnsdale side and South Gippsland the prime candidates.