AWFA senior women’s competition takes a hit on eve of 2018 season

AWFA is facing the possibility of having just seven senior ladies teams in the competition this season.

Wodonga Heart, Twin City, Cobram and Myrtleford have all indicated they would field a reserve grade side rather than contesting division one, while Albury Hotspurs is also considering the switch.

Hotspurs’ president Jason Smith said the club is waiting for the AWFA executives’ response to its submission, but would prefer to remain in the senior competition. 

“We requested to the AWFA if all these teams are dropping down, we’re going to be the bottom team and we’re going to get flogged every week, so we’ll just play reserves because that’s what everyone else wants to do,” Smith said,

“We’ve gone back to them and said why don’t you make those teams stay in seniors or drag the teams up from reserves to seniors?, so at least your senior competition has a full draw and half of them will be competitive and half won’t.

“You’ll still win some games throughout the season, you’re not going to win every game and your top four or five teams are still going to be your top four or five teams, but that’s the way it has got to be.

“You’ll have half and half, they’re not going to get flogged every week because they’ll still win or be competitive against the teams that are made to go up from the reserves.

“It’s been happening to us for years and you need to filter from the top division down.

“For the AWFA to allow them to play reserves (without a senior side) is absolutely ridiculous.

“You’ve then got people saying they’re only playing six teams a year, paying full rego and getting a bye every second week.”

AWFA president Mark Leman understands it’s a tough period for the women’s game in general and has plans to put a strategic plan in place this year with Football NSW and the club’s within the association on how they can grow the sport in the region.

“We need to look at how we can encourage girls to play football sooner rather than later and try to be as proactive as we possibly can.

“It’s like any sport, you can go through with elite players and a strong competition, but there comes a time when those girls retire, some have gone to AFL football, we’ve got uni students and girls with full-time jobs outside the region.

“We’ve just hit a brick wall where a lot of people leave at the same time, which is unusual, but it does happen and we have to rebuild.”

With round one kicking-off on Sunday, Leman said the current season fixture will remain the same for the opening fortnight, with a plan to create a standalone draw for the seven senior women’s teams after the Easter break.