Breaking new ground

GIPPSLAND’S first ever competitive women’s football team will take to the ground this season.

Founded by the Gippsland League, the new team will participate in the Victorian Women’s Football League division five east competition, taking on the likes of Knox, Montmorency and fellow newcomers Endeavour Hills and Rosebud.

Gippsland is one of nine new teams given the green light by AFL Victoria this season – an increase of 30 per cent – and Gippsland League chair Greg Maidment said the league was thrilled to be part of it.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for football in this region,” Maidment said.

“As the major league in Gippsland we’re always looking for ways to grow the game and we are looking forward to helping put women’s football on the map in Gippsland.”

The arrival of the women’s team comes on the back of a 60 per cent increase in girls’ participation in Gippsland last year and with the Gippsland Youth Girls League set to expand from four teams to eight in 2015.

A women’s team offers players graduating the youth girls’ competition a pathway to play at the next level, without having to leave Gippsland.

AFL Gippsland football development manager Chelsea Caple said initial response to the new team had been encouraging.

“The amount of interest and excitement we’ve had from women in the region has been very positive,” Caple said.

“The growth of women’s footy has been significant in recent years and we’re grateful the Gippsland League is supporting such an historic step for women’s football in this region.”

Gippsland League is seeking expressions of interest for an inaugural women’s team coach, as well as trainers, volunteers and players.

The team is in the process of finalising a training base and is expected to play home games at venues across the region.

Details of upcoming come and try days will be available on the league website and the team’s social media pages soon.

The VWFL season begins Saturday, 18 April.