THE success of the AFL’s women’s competition has had a visible impact at grassroots level, with female participation in WA soaring by 28 per cent in the last 12 months.
The recently released 2017 AFL Census figures showed the increase in WA women playing the game was on par with national figures, where women made up 30 per cent of all players.
The figures also showed the number of women’s teams across the country had jumped by a huge 76 per cent, a statistic AFL game development manager Andrew Dillon said had been “way beyond our expectations”.
WA Football Commission chief executive Gavin Taylor said overall, the number of players in WA had increased nine per cent in the last year.
“There has been an explosion of interest around the AFLW competition, which has showcased to the whole football industry the quality and importance of female football,” he said.
“To support this growth, the WAFC will continue to focus on developing a clearly defined and well-resourced female participation and talent pathway, female football club guides and education sessions, and a strategic facilities plan which will focus on improving football facilities for our female participants.”
Formed in 2013, the Piara Waters Junior Football Club is one of the newest clubs in the metropolitan area and has seen first hand the demand for the sport among local juniors.
President Elena Mustard said in their first year they had 53 players all in the Auskick program but had grown to more than 350 players in 2017.
“The Pirates are growing at a rapid rate, just like our surrounding suburbs Piara Waters and Harrisdale, and as a committee it is very challenging to cater for this growth but we wouldn’t want it any other way,” she said.
“10 per cent (growth) is great Australia wide but in our community we have increased by nearly 30 per cent since last year.
“Kids are taking up football because of how exciting it is to be part of this great Australian game.
“Their imaginations of becoming the next Erin Phillips or Nat Fyfe is fantastic to see when they come down to the Piara Waters Pavilion and have a kick with their friends.”