AS the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane have their eyes on the second ever AFL Women’s premiership prize, a new female South Coast competition is being launched.
Nine clubs will compete in the inaugural season, stretching from Northern Districts to Ulladulla.
With the introduction of an eight-team under 12s and six-team under 15s division, it completes the pathway from juniors to the elite level for the first time.
It all starts with the Tom Smith Lightning Cup on Saturday, before the first bounce for the season next month.
“It’s a big step forward, it’s exciting,” AFL South Coast women’s ambassador Nicola Kennedy said.
“We’ve had a great response from the clubs and players wanting to get involved, but we’re always interested in any new players as well. Like a lot of sports, girls get to an age where they don’t want to play in the boys games, so having their own competition offers them a proper pathway into the seniors.
“They can see all the AFL Women’s stars in action on television and know there’s a way to get there.”
The expansion comes after the extraordinary success of the Wollongong Saints in the AFL Sydney competition, after winning the division one flag last year.
Minor premiers the Saints beat the Western Magic by 22 points in the grand final after losing one game all season and have played a key role in helping GWS Giants player Maddy Collier and first-season AFL Women’s forward Kate Stanton.
The AFL South Coast Women’s league will be played in between the men’s reserve and first grades this season, with a draw almost mirroring the establish male competition.
AFL SOUTH COAST
First grade: Northern Districts Tigers, Wollongong Lions, Bomaderry Tigers, Kiama Power, Nowra Albatross Vikings, Ulladulla Dockers, Wollongong Bulldogs, Dapto Unicorns, Wollongong Saints. For more information: aflsouthcoast.com.au