Women’s footy ready to reach new heights

The sixth instalment of the Veolia Limestone Coast Women’s Football League is set to be the biggest ever and it all gets under way this weekend.

This Sunday’s season opener taking place at Blue Lake Sports Park kicks off a nine-round season which will criss-cross the region showcasing the most talented Limestone Coast women with the Sherrin.

The fight for the main prize could be one not to miss with the all-conquering South Gambier looking to begin a dynasty following on from their crushing run to the 2020 flag.

But the Demons have lost 15 premiership players and the likes of Kybybolite and Penola will come at them strong, while the other teams have been tirelessly perfecting their game on the training track.

Despite all of the excitement surrounding the senior competition which improves each year, the biggest headline heading into 2022 is on the junior front.

After a series of come and try games took place in recent years, the first ever Under 16’s competition is ready to start on Sunday, February 13.

South Gambier, North Gambier, Kybybolite and Kongorong are all lined up to be the first teams entering the exciting new era for football in the region.

LCWFL president Sarah Ottoson-Crossling said a huge amount of work had gone into making the junior season a reality and providing an easy welcoming to the game for young girls.

“We had our first come and try series with two teams in 2020 and three teams last year, so now we have four teams which allows us to create a more competitive model with at least six rounds and finals,” she said.

“Kongorong and South Gambier are the two new teams and it is so exciting they have decided to take the chance and create something for the girls because it did not come easily.

“It took a lot of initiative and ground work needed to be done by the clubs, in finding players, a coach and a support team.

“The clubs have recognised the importance of introducing girls to football and providing a pathway for them.”

The new competition will finally provide a much-needed bridge between the beginners and the senior pros with young girls having the chance to learn the game without facing the intimidating prospect of running onto the same field as the best in the league.

Ottoson-Crossling said there had never been a better time for a female junior to have a go at “Australia’s game”.

“It is a great opportunity for girls to come and try the game in a welcoming environment with everyone learning together,” she said.

“It is an exciting time being part of a new team with new players.”

The senior competition follows the same format as last year with the same nine clubs on show.

Although the each club has been able to survive another year full of COVID-19 chaos, Ottoson-Crossling said it was still a battle getting the 2022 season off the ground.

“We are a bit nervous about being one of the first sporting leagues to start in the new year with COVID in the community as it creates a few more obstacles – such as isolations,” she said.

“The last year has been quite intense in an ever-changing COVID climate, so trying to get people geared up for women’s football and promoting it has been quite a job.

“It has been harder to get volunteers, umpires and players on track but we hope we can encourage more people to be involved in the sport as it’s in the spotlight at the present with more opportunities than ever before.

“We aim that we’ll gain a bit more traction once the rounds kick off this weekend and anticipate that some more potential players and volunteers will come forward.”

One of the most pleasing signs of the growth of women’s football in the South East has been the region enjoying representation on the big stage.

Millicent’s Olivia Fuller and East Gambier’s Brooke Tonon were picked up by AFLW clubs Geelong and Adelaide respectively and have made significantly positive impressions, with the Cat already playing three games at the top level.

The region is also in the spotlight on the state scene with young guns Ella Little and Neave Delaney graduating to the Woodville-West Torrens SANFLW club this year after dominating locally, while many other local juniors including Annabel Mould and Mykaela Walker are on Glenelg’s radar.

Ottoson-Crossling said it has been wonderful to see the LCWFL provide players with new opportunities to make football a possible career path for young girls.

“With the increased publicity, we hope that those considering being involved in Women’s football will realise how the game is rapidly growing as well as the opportunities for those involved,” she said.

“With some girls being offered a spot with a SANFL club or AFLW club through playing, coaching or behind the scenes – the career pathways are there.

“We have seen these opportunities offered to boys for a long time, but to see the regional female talent being recognised is great.”

Sunday’s season-opening round was originally scheduled to take place at Vansittart Park, but due to the venue becoming a Rapid Antigen Test collection site, the games have been moved to Blue Lake Sports Park with first bounce at 10am.

Click here to read a full run-down of the nine teams taking part in the 2022 Veolia Limestone Coast Women’s Football League.

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