Women's football (25.06.2014)

Written on the 6 August 2014

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is to the Minister for Sport and Recreation, Mr Drum. Could the minister inform the house how the Victorian coalition government is assisting more females to participate in grassroots sport?


Hon. D. K. DRUM (Minister for Sport and Recreation) -- I appreciate the question from Ms Crozier, especially as it follows yesterday's question about the Melbourne Vixens and netball and in view of what is about to happen this weekend and what is being rolled out by the Western Bulldogs in relation to women's and girls' participation in the Auskick program. At Etihad Stadium on the weekend we are going to see an amazing game of Australian Rules football played between 50 of the state's most skilled and talented women's Australian Rules footballers.

Women's participation in Australian Rules Football currently numbers 169 000 across the nation, and a large proportion of those are Victorians. The number of youth competitions has increased to 18 across the state, and the number of dedicated female junior or youth teams has gone up by 350 per cent. The number of girls playing in dedicated football competitions has more than trebled, and this year there will be 188 dedicated female teams in Victoria across 26 competitions at junior, youth and senior level. We have seen an amazing increase in female participation in the sport. The Victorian government has contributed over $90 000 to a range of programs to assist women in football, and I congratulate the Western Bulldogs on the work it is doing in this space as well.

Last week we were able to join Mitch Wallace and Emma Kearney, and I will talk further about Emma later in my response -- she is one of our most talented female footballers -- at a girls-only Auskick program run by Mitch Wallace and others from the Western Bulldogs.

Many of the girls have identified that it can be intimidating to go along to an Auskick clinic or a junior football program where there are both boys and girls, because they feel as though they may not be good enough to join in. However, the Bulldogs have taken the initiative and produced a girls-only entrance program, which is a seven-week program. It will start off at the Whitten Oval and then progress to regional arenas and around the western suburbs. Participation in this program has been fantastic, and they are doing amazing things.

Most of us would be aware of the boom being experienced in this sport in our own electorates, and no doubt constituents are making representations about needing more change rooms and other facilities for women, as the facilities continually need improvement. In effect we are starting from scratch in this area.

The game on Sunday will start at 10.10 a.m. at Etihad Stadium. I urge anyone who has the opportunity to go along to watch this game.

The best 50 female players in the state will be playing. It will operate out of a draft, so players in last year's teams will stay with their teams, but the best up-and-coming young girls will be drafted into either of the teams.

Emma Kearney, who also plays cricket for the Victorian team, spends three days a week training for cricket, a couple of nights training for football, plays football on another day on the weekend and gives herself one day off. She understands that this is what it is going to take to maintain her level of professionalism in these burgeoning female sports. We are delighted to be able to partner up with those female sports.

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