This year’s Women’s National Championships are being held in Cairns, Queensland. As usual, there will be two divisions:
Division 1 is the top tier of women’s football and includes the powerhouse football states of Victoria and Western Australia as well as strong state teams from Queensland and New South Wales, bursting out from traditional rugby territory.
Division 2 is a development league which comprises Australian Capital Territory, Arafura (Northern Queensland, Papua New Guinea and Northern Territory), South Australia and Tasmania.
The Arafura team takes the place of the usual Northern Territory state team whilst the Thunder rebuild their female talent program. Read on for the full schedule.
As club co-founder and current president (and a no-longer-so-active WFN correspondent) I take you behind the scenes of the club, and share our journey so far. Hopefully it’s an entertaining read – perhaps it might also prove useful to others in Australia or abroad working to get a club up and running.
Two 4WD troop carriers will be negotiating narrow bush tracks and river crossings, dust trailing behind the vehicles, as they travel seven hours across Arnhem Land from Maningrida to Nhulunbuy. They hope to pick up some extra players as they travel through the community of Ramingining.
At the same time, a squadron of five light planes will leave Galiwinku, flying across the waters of Buckingham Bay and the Gove Peninsula. They will probably look out of the plane window at the dust cloud formed by the vehicles coming in from Gapuwiyak, headed for the same destination.
Another collection of charter aircraft will be leaving Groote Eylandt to meet the others, as well as local teams in the Gove AFL. Yirrkala, Gunyangara and Gove teams should already be there.
Such a movement of people and vehicles begs the question. What’s going on?
On the weekend of 22 and 23 June, Nhulunbuy (Gove) will be hosting the East Arnhem Football Carnival. The mass movement of players and fans across the land and waters of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, is headed for a huge Australian Rules football carnival in one of Australia’s more remote regions.
In celebration of the first ever Women’s AFL match and AFL Women’s Round, Melbourne Football Club are giving away free tickets to see the Women’s match curtain raiser, followed by the Demon’s AFL clash against the Western Bulldogs. The tickets are available to all women and girls who play football or contribute to the game.
The history making Women’s Round fixture will take place at the MCG on Saturday the 29th of June from 5:10 pm. Tickets are limited so anyone interested in one needs to register as soon as possible at this link.
Tom hurls his considerable frame into a contest and comes out with the ball. From 30 metres out, he goals: a celebrated first kick, first goal situation. Seconds earlier, Garang had thrown himself fearlessly into a pack. He didn’t get the ball, but his effort caused a spillage and the ball eventually floated forward to Tom. Running frantically to stop all of this was Modasir from the other team.
This passage could have described almost any game, anywhere. It could also have described any three junior players in any game across the nation. But there was a difference.
Tom Daniel’s family is from Uganda and Garang Asheen’s and Modasir Bahar’s are from Sudan. And the setting was under the Friday night lights at Cazaly’s Stadium in Cairns.
Majak Daw, the North Melbourne sensation whose opening 18 minutes of senior AFL footy earlier this year captured the imagination of the footy public across the nation, has triggered interest in Australian Rules football nationally. Cairns, in North Queensland, has not been immune. Already there is evidence in local competition that kids with African heritage are taking to the game.
Yarrabah Aboriginal Community is located southeast of Cairns in North Queensland and it is known as a “Paradise by the Sea”. It is hard to argue. The 45 kilometre drive by road from Cairns is lovely, but reaches a climax as it climbs the Murray Prior Range. Shortly after passing beneath the summit of Mount Yarrabah, and its collection of communication towers, the descent begins. Then, at Angel Bend, one of the finest views in the region is witnessed as you look down, seemingly vertically, on the township of Yarrabah adjacent to the glistening waters of Mission Bay.
A spokesperson for the Yarrabah Shire Council stated, “Located in the dead centre of the Yarrabah Township is a sports field that was developed between 2000 and 2001 for the purpose of encouraging Yarrabah kids to take up athletics. It is said that Aboriginal children have natural skills. A new footy oval in Yarrabah would give those kids a chance to show their skills in a variety of other sports like Australian Rules football and not just Rugby League and athletics.”
A permanent new feature of the Cairns AFL landscape will be played out on the streets and football fields of this North Queensland city next Sunday 19th May.
According to Shaun Nancarrow, Club Development Officer for AFL Cairns, “Local club, the Cairns City Lions, supported by their Event Partners – Harbrow Mentoring, Cairns Regional Council and the Cairns Post -will host the first Walk for Reconciliation along the Cairns Esplanade, departing from the Sound Stage at Fogarty Park and making their way to the Osprey function zone 2.5 kilometres away. Local indigenous health group Wuchopperen will provide healthy snacks at the conclusion of the event while the walkers who wish to attend the footy wait to be transported to the Holloway’s Beach Sporting Complex for the second annual ‘Dreamtime by the Sea’ game.”
This event is largely the creation of the Cairns City Lions football club. They plan to host these events to recognise the contribution and commitment Indigenous players and their families bring to the game of Australian Rules football at a local and national level.
Victoria Metro have retained their Youth Girls Champions title by defeating closest rival Western Australia by 6.4 (40) to 3.7 (25).
Meanwhile in the other finals, the up and coming Queensland side just scraped past the combined Victoria Country/ Tasmania team in a nail biting 3.7(25) to 3.2(20) scrap for third spot, whilst the underperforming New South Wales / Australian Capital Territory team was blown over by the developing South Australia / Northern Territory team 6.6(42) to 1.1(7) in the battle for fifth.
The AFL has announced the top 50 female players in Australia as part of the Women's Draft which precedes the "Women's AFL" exhibition game. The game will be played as a curtain raiser to the Women’s Round AFL game between Melbourne FC and Western Bulldogs at the MCG on the 29th of June.
The two AFL Clubs were given the opportunity to select the players from the draft to represent them in the curtain raiser. Also selected were two of Australia’s top female coaches: Michelle Cowan has been appointed coach of the Melbourne FC women’s team, and Peta Searle has been appointed coach of the Western Bulldogs women’s team.
Unsurprisingly, players from the VWFL dominated the selection, with powerhouse Darebin Falcons notching up nothing short of 10 players on the list, 3 of whom where named in the top 10.
A spokesperson from Darebin Falcons told us, “The girls certainly did their club proud. It was a successful night for Darebin, but more importantly for women's football as a whole. It’s fantastic to see these women receiving a reward for their effort.”
Across town, Melbourne University’s team had 6 players selected, whilst in Western Australia, Coastal Titans managed 4 players on the list and Swan Districs had two players named in the top 10.
Representatives from New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia also found their way into the top 50, echoing the promising results from the recent Youth Girls National Championships, and showing that the gap between the two top states and their closest rivals is slowly closing.
Read the full story for the full list of the top 50 female players, their home clubs and the AFL team they have been selected to play for.