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Saints AFLW team pivotal

David O'Neill  September 6, 2017 5:21 PM

girlsstory.jpg

The feedback we have from parents and girls themselves is that the pathway is one of the key reasons they choose to play football.

The CEO of one of Australia’s biggest junior football leagues has backed the push for a St Kilda team to enter the AFL Women’s Competition in 2019.

Sarah Loh, who presides over the South Metro Junior Football League and a whopping 78 junior girls teams (456 teams in total), says a St Kilda AFLW team is the missing link in one of female football’s most important heartlands.

There are 179 all-female teams (40 senior & 139 junior in the Bayside area with junior participation in the SMJFL (78 teams), Frankston District Junior Football League (26 teams), Mornington Peninsular Junior Football League (24 teams) making the region easily one of the strongest nationally for girls football.

“Our team numbers went from 33 in 2016 to 78 this season which is over 1,000 new girl participants,” Loh said

“I’m expecting a similar number next season which is really exciting.

“The feedback we have from parents and girls themselves is that the pathway is one of the key reasons they choose to play football.

“A St Kilda AFLW team will complete that pathway and without it we risk losing these girls to other sports.”

“The AFLW competition has had a huge impact attracting girls to the game but a St Kilda AFLW team will be pivotal in ensuring footy is the sport of choice for girls and women in the region long term.”

The South Metro Junior Football League will join the Sandringham Dragons and the Southern Football League in calling St Kilda’s new training and administration facility at Moorabbin home when the redevelopment is completed in 2018.

“To think there will be young girls playing Auskick on the same field as the St Kilda Women’s team will be enormous for football Bayside and the south east suburbs.”

“Our interleague teams will sponsored by St Kilda FC through a partnership with the Saints’ next generation academy.

Approximately one third of the girls and boys who play in the SMJFL nominated St Kilda as the club they follow this season in another sign of the support a St Kilda AFLW team would receive in the Bayside and south east suburbs.

The Saints’ support for the SMJFL and the local football community was demonstrated Sunday with the club and apparel partner XBlades donating two sets of St Kilda jumpers for use in the inaugural community cup intraleague matches.

The games were played as part of an annual event provided to u12 boys to participate in their first representative program.  This year, in partnership with the Saints, the concept to have a girls only team to form their first representative game was provided due to the growth and interest in the game.  The SMJFL Community Cup saw U12 girls sides and U12 boys teams take to the field in Saints jumpers, pitted against two teams wearing Melbourne colours.

“To have the chance to wear the jumpers of AFL clubs sends a powerful message to these young girls that the sky is the limit,” Loh said.

And for the record, the Saints girls and boys teams proved too strong for the Demons.