By Alex Fair, The Advocate
You can’t deny the passion for football in this state, no matter what gender is partaking in the game.
The fairer sex have made up a lot of ground in recent times when it comes to the sport, no doubt evident with the launch of the AFLW, a competition which will feature four players from Tasmania.
Despite the quartet that will be taking part in the inaugural league (Ellyse Gamble, Emma Humphries, Brittany Gibson and Jessica Wuetschner), which is a remarkable number considering our population and competition standard, now is not the time to rest on our laurels.
This was the mantra of a “meeting of the minds” in Launceston on Saturday, where AFL Tasmania tackled the subject head-on at its Female Football Forum.
Those in attendance know that there is still some work to be done to ensure Tasmania isn’t left behind, a fact that was emphasised.
The one thing to come from it though was that there is a united front, made up of those that play, manage, coach and observe the game, to ensure better for its female participations.
There is this collective vision to ensure that football is a natural choice for young girls coming through the ranks, that it is not seen as a novelty.
There is also that desire to ensure the women’s team are seen as part of a club as whole, rather than just a team that could be viewed as a separate entity.
The final piece of the puzzle is ensuring that the pathway to the elite level is one that is smooth, to give the best possible opportunity for the next Gamble, Humphries, Gibson or Wuetschner.
READY TO GO: Coastal football stars Emma Humphries and Brittany Gibson are ready for the AFLW. Picture: Brodie Weeding
This will involve a change in the game’s structure.
Starting with a girls-only Auskick, there will also be regional competitions and a high-performance/State League model will be introduced in the not too distant future.
The new-look State League is set to be more of a condensed version, to ensure a higher standard of competition.
How this will look, only time will tell, but under the watchful eye of Darren Flanigan, who has helped transform Victoria’s women’s competition into the powerful league it is now, it will be exciting.
Excitement was the one major emotion to get out of the forum.
Excitement for what is to come from a national level, and also what they will mean for the game here in this state.
Those in our football family have to ensure that we don’t drop the ball.
If the enthusiasm, passion and vision displayed on the weekend is anything to go by, we are in good hands.
Watch this space, it will be worth it.