More than 1,200 girls will lace up their footy boots this week and create history as the Queensland Girls Secondary Schools Sports Association (QGSSSA) kicks off their first AFL interschool sporting competition.
Spread across Brisbane, Ipswich and the Gold Coast, students from the Association’s 10 member schools* will compete in a four-week trial competition, comprising of two skill development sessions and two centralised modified gala days.
Founded in 1908, the QGSSSA is the longest, sustained competition in girls’ secondary school sport and aims to provide quality sporting opportunities for young women. In 2021, the Association is celebrating 113 years of girls in sport.
Damien Mitchelmore, Queensland Participation and Programs Manager – Schools and Diversity said AFL Queensland was driven to make Aussie rules the most progressive and accessible team sport in the state.
“Our partnership with QGSSSA is a big step forward for the continued growth of the game in Queensland,” he said.
“We are thrilled to have the support of the Association to enable students enrolled in Grades 4 to 11 with the opportunity to sample Aussie rules football in Term Four in preparation for the sport to enter the QGSSSA sporting calendar in 2022 as a trial sport.
“It’s the first time QGSSSA have participated in a collision sport and the plan is to build it to full football by 2023.
“Girls and women’s football in Queensland continues to kick goals and smash records. 42% of all participants in the state are now women and girls and our partnership with QGSSSA is a shining example of the work we are doing to provide more opportunities for young girls to play and be part of our great game.”
Ros Curtis, Principal of St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School and QGSSSA President said with the growth of women’s AFL and the AFLW competition, the introduction of the sport was a welcome inclusion.
“The QGSSSA schools are very excited about the introduction of AFL to its suite of sports,” she said.
“It is sure to become very popular and it is a wonderful opportunity to create a long-term involvement with this sport by including students from Year 4 to Year 11.”
Not only will the students have access to high-quality competition but there will be opportunities for leadership and holistic development with the assistance of AFL Queensland, the Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast SUNS.
Premiership winning Brisbane Lions AFLW CEO Breeanna Brock said the introduction of competition was another sign of how far women’s football has come.
“An extra 1,200 girls learning and playing football through their schooling years and with their friendship groups will help us find and nurture the next generation of female footballers in Queensland,” she said.
“The more girls we can get playing and enjoying football from an early age, the better. It all helps to continue to grow the game and makes for a new breeding ground for talent.
“Four current Brisbane Lions AFLW players attended those schools and can only have dreamt of the opportunity to play footy like this at school.”
The Gold Coast SUNS have thrown their support behind the competition, with a number of players supporting the sessions at Gold Coast school St Hilda’s.
“It’s fantastic for the growth of our game to see football played in our schools by more and more girls,” said Gold Coast SUNS Head of Women’s Football, Fiona Sessarago.
“Queensland is one of the biggest growth markets in the country and a lot of that is driven by strong female participation numbers. This is only going to continue to grow with more girls learning the game from a young age.
“Our hope is for young girls to fall in love with the sport and see a pathway to maybe one day becoming an AFLW player for the Gold Coast SUNS.”
The first skill development sessions are occurring this week at QGSSSA Schools.
*QGSSSA member schools include;
- Brisbane Girls Grammar School
- Brisbane State High School
- Clayfield College
- Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School
- Moreton Bay College
- Somerville House
- St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School
- St Hilda’s School
- St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School
- St Peters Lutheran College
Picture credit: St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School