New teams and a new structure will see women's football in Bendigo expanding rapidly in size and quality for season 2024.
After a nomination period that has stretched over the previous few months, late last week, the Central Victoria Football League announced the successful nominations of three clubs to enter the CVFLW (senior women's) competition for next season.
BFNL powerhouse Sandhurst, HDFNL club White Hills and LVFNL club Marong have been selected to join the CVFLW.
The introduction of the Dragons, Demons and Panthers takes the CVFLW up to a ten-team competition.
Both Sandhurst and White Hills have recently expressed their desires to complete their women's football program by giving their junior girls a pathway into senior footy at the one club.
White Hills Junior Football Club women's and girls' coordinator Gerri Ripper told the Bendigo Advertiser last week that the tick of approval gives the Demons under 18 girls - who won the flag this season - continuity with their football.
"We've got eight of our under-18 girls in 2023 who will be ageing out to seniors next year, and we want to give them a pathway into women's football.
"It gives those girls continuity and a pathway to continue playing with their friends.
"They were premiers this year, so they continue that structure and keep that talented playing group together.
"Once our juniors finished under-18s, they needed to go somewhere else to play, so we wanted to provide a full pathway, which we thought we might as well do sooner rather than later," O'Farrell said.
"With the number of the girls coming through the academy that have talent, we're keen to hold onto them.
"Our under-18 demographic suggests it will be at the end of next year that we'll have some players pass through to the senior program, but when we got a good amount of interest, we decided to go for it for 2024."
Castlemaine has won the last two premierships in the CVFLW, having only lost one game during that period.
Meanwhile the CVFL also announced the formation of an under-18 girls competition to its senior women's structure from next season onwards.
As per the AFL Victoria Country Rules and Regulations, the CVFL has received approval for two age groups to operate within the league.
Under-18 girls commenced in the Bendigo Junior Football League in 2010, with Central Victoria clubs competing in the AFL Victoria competition from 2007.
Castlemaine and Strathfieldsaye join the existing five under-18 teams in Eaglehawk, Golden Square, Sandhurst, White Hills and Woorinen.
The Demons defeated Woorinen in the 2023 BJFL under-18s girls grand final by 35 points.
CVFL UNDER-18 GIRLS: