April 16 marks an important milestone in the development of female AFL in Queensland ahead of the nationwide competition to be introduced in 2017.
This Saturday, the best open age female talent from the Gold Coast and Brisbane regions will battle it out in a curtain closer at the Gabba.
The match between the Lions and SUNS’ women’s teams is one of six exhibition games scheduled for 2016, and provides an opportunity for those involved to showcase their talents on the big stage.
Leah Kaslar, captain of the SUNS team, has been involved in the sport for a decade and says the development across the state has been remarkable.
“The quality of the game has improved along with obviously all other resources that are put into training the young girls and it’s been incredible to see the growth of the sport and see us get to where we’re at today,” Kaslar told SUNS TV on Wednesday.
Last year, female numbers grew almost 38% in Queensland, which is now the top state for overall women’s AFL participation.
It’s a trend Kaslar says has been evident at her local club, the Coolangatta Bluebirds, who are part of the QWAFL and QWAFA competitions.
“We’re going to field a reserves grade team this year, we’ve got 50-60 girls on our books so it’s really good that were able to make a talent pathway for the girls coming through who aren’t quite ready for the top level football yet,” she said.
While a certain fitness level is undoubtedly required for AFL, Kaslar says the women in the teams have a diverse range of backgrounds.
“AFL is such a versatile, dynamic game a lot of people come down to try it and don’t leave,” she said.
“We’ve got a whole variety of girls trying the sport including some who have never played before and don’t have a sporting background, it definitely is growing and it’s an exciting sport to be in.
“We even have an Irish recruit, who played Gaelic football and her father actually participated in one of the first Australian Rules/Gaelic games back a long time ago.”