Womens AFL comp marks dawn of the new football era
EQUALITY and acceptance.
The new AFL Wide Bay women's competition boils down to those two things.
While they have improved in some societal circles, there is still a challenge to accept and treat women who play traditionally male-dominated sports as equals.
Montanna Lees is a Bay Power ruck or defender.
"I really want to see it like (this) so we can be treated like we matter as well," the passionate footballer said.
That dream, held by many of the Fraser Coast's female footballers, is a step closer to reality as AFL Wide Bay launched its new six-team competition for 2018.
The Power, Hervey Bay Bombers, Maryborough Bears, Gympie Cats, The Waves and Brothers Bulldogs will take the field early next year.
The Power and Bombers, who played several exhibition games last year, led the drive in the open women's age groups, while Maryborough welcomed numerous juniors during the 2017 girls' competition.
Bombers representative Taylah King, a gun Aussie rules footballer, welcomed yesterday's launch.
"It's great for me as I've been travelling to the Sunny Coast and Gympie to play since I was 15 years old," the half-forward said. "Having a competition at home is a lot more efficient for all of us and I'm glad to see it growing at our home town."
Maryborough's Jazmyn Alexander does not have a home position, but she's keen to see the Bears take on the best the Wide Bay has to offer. Lees simply wants to enjoy the competitive freedom most women's brothers and fathers have experienced for decades.
"We've always watched the boys play," Lees said.
"It's better now the girls are in because we can join in and kick a footy around."
The Bombers may start the new competition as one of the strongest.
Hervey Bay dominated the games against Bay Power and have an established core of players, though King warned a number of players had moved on.
"I think we are very lucky to have gained experience from playing against Bay Power last year," she said.
"Our girls who hadn't played now have more experience, and we do have a couple of girls who are coming back. Sadly there a couple who are leaving but we have younger girls coming up through our junior sides who are willing to play as well."
The Power have started training. The Bombers and Bears will start next month.