By Grant Hitzman
Queensland’s best young female footballers will meet in Brisbane from Thursday to compete in the Under 17 Youth Girls State Championships.
The revamped competition will offer Townsville the chance to field a standalone team for the first time in Division 2, which is the perfect fit according to AFLQ Townsville Regional Manager, Kath Newman.
“I think Division 2 is the perfect place to start for our girls because it gives us the chance to be competitive while still focusing on growth and development,” Newman said.
“We’ve had a handful of girls team up with Cairns in past years, but this is the first time we’ve had our own team, so it’s a great chance to get more girls from our region involved in a state wide competition.”
Despite the absence of a female based competition for five years, AFL Townsville recognised the interest around the region for a female team and the opportunity to compete at the Youth championships.
“We had a very successful women’s team from a local high school, who came from an indigenous background, so we knew the interest was there with the perfect age group of girls,” Newman said.
“We also recognised that girls in their early teens and experienced women wanted a competition of their own, so 12 months ago we ran a league based competition for six weeks.
“It has really taken off and now the competition runs alongside the Colts and features 100 girls and women.”
After holding a gala style open-day earlier in the year for all secondary school students, six teams were invited to a four-week “Welcome to Footy” program before the final squad was announced.
“The feedback we received was fantastic and it was really encouraging to see the amount of girls that wanted to participate and were getting invited about footy,” Newman said.
“Training has been running for six weeks now twice a week and despite the school holiday distraction, the team has been going great.”
Townsville’s relatively inexperienced list, which features five bottom agers, will be bolstered by the trio of Aggie Harry, Delma Gisu and Pamai Dau, the latter of two playing in the KickStart championships earlier in the year.
“Delma and Pamai made the Woomeras squad after competing at the KickStart championships, so we expect them to step up and guide some of the younger, less experienced girls,” Newman said.
“It’s going to be exciting to see all the girls get out there and have a go, we have some pretty talented youngsters like Emily Davison, who is just 14 and already playing in our women’s competition.”
As a first year team in already established nine year competition, Newman insists that development and interest in AFL are the key indicators for success, not wins on the board.
“Obviously the girls are pretty excited and want to go to Brisbane and give it a real crack, but we don’t really know what kind of competition is going to there,” she said.
“Wins are nice but if a good majority of the girls come away and say that they want to come back to Townsville and continue to play footy or get involved more, that is a big plus for us.”