Federal Minister for Sport, Mark Arbib, today joined Gold Coast Suns player Josh Fraser to welcome players from a new AFL Youth Girls team to Metricon Stadium as part of AFL Women’s Week.

Thursday, 9 June, 2011

Federal Minister for Sport, Mark Arbib, today joined Gold Coast Suns player Josh Fraser to welcome players from the new AFL Youth Girls team the Carrara Saints to Metricon Stadium as part of AFL Women’s Week.

April Rolfe, Montana Dove, Sarah Boevink, Sarah Rickter, Keeley McClelland, Wendy Bristow, Chloe Marshall and Georgia Maloney all aged 16, were able to get some tips from the Suns ruckman and tour Metricon Stadium.

The Carrara Saints compete in the new AFL Youth Girls competition on the Gold Coast, a competition that has grown as a result of $750,000 in Federal Government funding to the AFL to boost participation.

Senator Arbib said it was extremely important that the number of girls playing sport increased and the AFL’s enthusiasm for its junior female football programs was fantastic.

“It is great to meet these young women from the Carrara Saints today and see their passion and dedication for playing AFL,” Senator Arbib said.

“Almost half of all girls between five and 14 in Australia aren’t currently involved with a sporting club.  The girls here today are great role models for girls all over Australia to get involved in a local sporting club.

“We need to see more women of all ages involved in physical activity.  For young girls in particular, sport can teach you a great deal – self-discipline, team work and goal setting. Most importantly, it is great fun.”

The Gold Coast Youth Girls competition started in May this year and has four new teams of young women aged 14 to 17. Aligned to existing junior clubs on the Coast, the four teams are the Broadbeach Cats, Surfers Paradise Demons the Carrara Saints Red and the Carrara Saints Black.

Previously, any girls who wanted to continue to play AFL over 12 years of age had to travel to Brisbane. Across the State, there are now 13,480 female participants, and Queensland is this week playing in the AFL National Women’s Championships in Adelaide.

Over the course of the next four years, new girls youth competitions will spring up across the country in areas where there currently is no regular female competition for teenage girls.

These competitions will fill the missing link in the pathway for females in the sport, from NAB AFL Auskick through to senior women’s football, and will capitalise on the popularity and interest in the sport amongst females by making it a truly life-long participation sport option.

David Matthews, General Manager of National and International Development, sees women’s football as a great agent to boost overall sports participation in Australia.  

“With over 70,000 female participants now playing the game across Australia, the need for Youth Girls competitions was a great one and we thank the Federal Government for their support in making Australian football an option for girls after they finish NAB AFL Auskick.”

“About 43% of the viewing audience of AFL football is female. Through these new competitions and other innovative programs being made possible by Federal Government funding, we think we can build upon this interest and get more females playing regular sport in Australia.”

Suns, Gold Coast Suns Female Football Ambassador, lent his support to the new local competition.

“We are very proud to support the AFL’s new youth girls competition,” he said.

“It’s great to see an increasing number of girls playing AFL on the Gold Coast and the more females that participate in our game at any level, whether it be on or off the field is fantastic for the growth of the game.”

Senator Arbib said the Federal Government was investing a record $11 million a year in national sporting organisations to increase participation in sport.

“I congratulate the AFL and their dedication to getting kids out of the lounge room and onto the footy field and I wish the Carrara Saints the best of luck in the Gold Coast Youth Girls Competition,” Senator Arbib said.
The Carrara Saints girls are pictured with (L-R), Queensland Sports Minister Phil Reeves, Josh Fraser (back), Federal Minister for Sport Mark Arbib and AFLQ Participation and Fan Development Manager Fiona McLarty.

Picture courtesy AFL Photos.

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