Female football firsts just keep on coming

VICTORY: Bendigo footballers Sarah Baldwin, Amanda Carrod and Alana McNabb played for Vic Country's winning open team. Picture: AFL VICTORIA

VICTORY: Bendigo footballers Sarah Baldwin, Amanda Carrod and Alana McNabb played for Vic Country's winning open team. Picture: AFL VICTORIA

It has been a mega fortnight of female football firsts, reaffirming that women and girls represent the greatest growth area within the AFL.

There were celebrations last weekend when the Bendigo Youth Girls representative side defeated Shepparton and District Youth Girls for the first time in their inter-league challenge.

The Alana Wearne-led team got two goals clear early and extended their lead each quarter to run out 66-point winners.

It was a great team effort by all players and fantastic to see the girls build on the skills and team play learnt during the Subway Shield carnival in April.

Wearne said that despite a rushed preparation, she was really pleased with the quality of football the girls displayed against Shepparton.

"We hope to build on our strengths in our next battle against Ballarat this Saturday,” she said. 

“It's been great to see the rapid development of junior female footy throughout the inter-league competition."

In another first for female football, the BJFL was thrilled to announce the youth girls inter-league side had secured a sponsor. 

Fernwood gym has come on board to support the girls and provide the team with access to their quality staff and gymnasium.

At state level, an under-21 game was played at the Whitten Oval between Vic Country and Vic Metro for the first time.

Historically, there has been an open-age Metro v Country match to showcase the most talented female footballers in the state, but the huge recent growth in player numbers prompted the introduction of this second age group.

I was fortunate enough to be selected in the under-21 side and it was a great experience being able to play alongside my usual opponents.

Vic Country was not able to sustain its early lead and was two points down at the final change. Vic Metro came out firing in the last quarter and went on to win.

Vic Country dominated their city counterparts in the open game. 

It was the first time Vic Country had been able to clench the win since 2003 and the players were thrilled.

Manager of both country teams Paul Lefevre, from Bendigo, said: "There was only two points in the under-21 game  at three quarter time but Vic Metro just seemed to have  a bit more run and also had a strong breeze, which made their kicks a lot longer.

"The open game was fast moving, with Daisy Pearce dominating. All in all, it was a strong contest from both teams, with Country too strong in the end."

Another recent female football highlight was the appointment of Peta Searle as an assistant coach at St Kilda.

Peta has long been a trailblazer for women in football, both as a highly decorated player and an experienced coach.

Her accomplishments prove to all female players, coaches and administrators that their efforts will not go unrecognised.

In the local youth girls round-up, Kyneton continued its good form with a convincing win over Huntly. 

Maryborough did well as a fledgling club to field a side, but Kangaroo Flat proved too strong.

Castlemaine again showed why it is reigning premiers with a strong win over Eaglehawk, with Briana Eyles kicking eight goals. 

And Strathfieldsaye beat North Bendigo. Storm forward Madeline Sexton leads the league goal-kicking table with 24 goals.

In the VWFL, Bendigo Thunder begins its run at teams in the lower half of the ladder, taking on the Eastern Devils at Dower Park on Sunday.

Good luck to all girls and women taking to the oval for a game of footy this week.

Grace Campbell is the AFL Victoria-Bendigo Advertiser Female Football Ambassador for this region. Schools interested in Grace hosting a girls’ football clinic should contact Tony McNamara on 0419 103 178.

Vic Country's open-age team featuring Bendigo Thunder players Sarah Baldwin, Amanda Carrod and Alana McNabb (numbers 17, 30 and 2). Picture: AFL VICTORIA

Vic Country's open-age team featuring Bendigo Thunder players Sarah Baldwin, Amanda Carrod and Alana McNabb (numbers 17, 30 and 2). Picture: AFL VICTORIA

Bendigo's Grace Campbell in action for Vic Country in the under-21 match. Picture: AFL VICTORIA

Bendigo's Grace Campbell in action for Vic Country in the under-21 match. Picture: AFL VICTORIA

Vic Country's under-21 squad, featuring Bendigo sisters Grace and Lily Campbell (numbers 8 and 35). Picture: AFL VICTORIA

Vic Country's under-21 squad, featuring Bendigo sisters Grace and Lily Campbell (numbers 8 and 35). Picture: AFL VICTORIA

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