Published on 13 January 2022

Girls are kicking goals

Female participation in Australian rules football is growing in our city.

Girls across the City of Onkaparinga are kicking goals on and off the football field as interest in women’s competitions in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) and the Southern Football League (SFL) continues to grow.

The SANFL has introduced a new women’s development league this year to enhance the talent pathways for female players. The new league will provide players working towards selection in an SANFLW team with opportunity to gain match play experience and train in an elite environment with their SANFL club.

South Adelaide Football Club Chief Executive Neill Sharpe says the SANFLW development league is a “genuine pathway” for female footballers.

“The women on our list have a great enthusiasm to play football. Even five years ago, they didn’t think they could play at this level,” Neill says.

Head coach for the highly successful South Adelaide’s senior women’s team, Rick Watts, says opportunity is the main reason for the growth of women’s football in South Australia.

“It’s more socially accepted now that girls and women want to play Aussie Rules football. Footy empowers girls to be strong people and allows them to change the narrative about what it means to be a powerful woman,” Rick says.

The girls are taking charge of their participation in footy at a grassroots level too. Meet Michelle Glazbrook, president of the Morphett Vale Football Club, and Joanne Walsh, president of the Aldinga Football Club.

Joanne has been part of the Aldinga Football Club since she was born and became president of the club at the start of the 2021 season. Her father served as club treasurer and president in the 1980s and 1990s. After volunteering in various roles over many years to support her brother and then her son in the men’s teams, Joanne took to the field herself in 2020, playing in the Sharks’ senior women’s team.

“Having lived in Aldinga all my life, it’s amazing to see it thriving now, having transformed from a small country town. There’s a lot of interest in women’s football from the local community,” Joanne says.

The Sharks had two girls’ under-11 sides in 2021, one of which was coached by Joanne, an under-14 team and an open women’s side. This year, local girls are invited to join the growing under-17 side.

“Girls previously came to footy from other sports. I’m excited to see the increase in skill level as the girls start their footy younger and move up through the competition,” Joanne says.

In her role as president, Joanne’s focus is creating a community hub for local families.

“The job creates an opportunity for me to give back to my community in a meaningful way,” Joanne says.

Michelle Glazbrook became involved with the Morphett Vale Football Club 30 years ago when her husband, Rob, was playing. After Michelle’s son donned the Emus jumper in 2003, she was encouraged to serve as the club’s secretary. She became president in 2019.

“The SFL women’s competition is getting bigger, and quickly. The numbers are growing in the Emus’ juniors and sub-juniors’ teams. While we’re looking for women to join our seniors’ competition whether they’re new to footy or more experienced, it will be exciting to see the younger girls come up through the ranks,” Michelle says.

Like Joanne, Michelle is also committed to giving back to her community and making the Morphett Vale Football Club a great place to be for local kids.

“I love seeing the little people out on the field, running around with a smile on their face. Some of our kids come to footy to get the world off their shoulders for a few hours. They know they can be themselves here,” Michelle says.

Council is continuing to support the growth of female football by upgrading changerooms to contemporary unisex facilities at Port Noarlunga, Happy Valley, Reynella, and Morphett Vale Sports Parks. 

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Girls are kicking goals