FIVE teams will compete in the inaugural Optus West Australian Football League Women’s (WAFLW) competition this year.
Peel Thunder, East Fremantle, Claremont, Subiaco and Swan Districts will each field a WAFLW team, with South Fremantle receiving a provisional license for 2020.
West Australian Football Commission chief executive Gavin Taylor said the WAFLW competition was an exciting step forward for football in WA.
He said it would complete the talent development pathway from Auskick to AFLW.
“Club football participation by females has tripled in WA in the last five years to more than 94,000 and it is important that every one of these players has the opportunity to reach their full potential and compete at the highest possible level,” he said.
“Whether it is playing footy for fun among our 14,000 female Auskick players or aiming to emulate AFLW idols, we want to make sure there is a clear development pathway for every player to follow, which will be achieved with the launch of the WAWFL Women’s competition.”
Mr Taylor said the WAFL Women’s competition would showcase and develop WA best female footballers.
Optus and the West Coast Eagles are major WAFLW partners.
WA Women’s Football League president Carolyn Hills said after forming more than 30 years ago, she was excited to witness the evolution of the competition into an exciting new era as WAFLW.
“It is rewarding for everyone involved to see women’s football continuing to receive more interest and support every year,” she said.
“A State League competition aligned with the WAFL clubs will only help us continue this journey and hopefully see more WA players progress into the AFLW.”
The 2019 Optus WAFLW Premiership Season will be played from May to September at WAFL venues. Fixtures will include double-headers with WAFL League games, as well as stand-alone matches. Round 1 will start on the weekend of May 4/5 with the Grand Final to be played as a double-header with the WAFL League Preliminary Final on the weekend of September 14/15.
Full fixtures will be finalised in the coming weeks, along with plans to live-stream a game each week on the WAFL website.
The overarching competition structure will result in the WAFLW replacing the League division of the existing WA Women’s Football League, which will continue as a supporting Reserves and under 18 Rogers Cup competition featuring teams from all nine WAFL clubs.
Teams previously playing in the WAWFL League division that did not receive an inaugural WAFL Women’s license will compete in the WAWFL Reserves in 2019.
The WAFC will consider options at the end of the inaugural WAFLW season to expand the number of teams or introduce a promotion and relegation system with the WAWFL Reserves.