Chirnside Park (chirnsidefc.com) is technically one of the new clubs for the 2019 masters competitions, but are actually coming out from behind the 2018 Box Hill North banner. The core 12 players from Chirnside Park played as a combined team in 2018, albeit with separate trainings and structures. Chirnside Park has a strong history of masters’ men since 2011, and launching a successful local recruiting campaign over the last month, now have over 30 players on their list for the 2019 season.
This year, the team will feature the nucleus of experienced players with at least a season under their belt, more confident and excited to put their experience to good effect. Many of the new recruits however, are also very new to footy, with a good cross over program including the talented basketball mums. The team has been excited to be involved in the practice matches and despite that tricky part of trying to pick up the names of your 22 new best friends, have been gelling really well.
One of the things that will stand out for 2019, says Cathy Farrell, is taking pride in the club and the sense of support for masters’ women. As a senior player in the 80’s, Cathy remembers playing with various footy clubs in the outer east, but says that the current experience has been the most welcoming environment for women’s football. Coach Reece Thomas has been inspirational in his approach to leading the women’s players, and many of the masters men are there every week to offer additional support and help with the weekly training sessions. Chirnside Park football provides the freedom to bring your whole self to the football, to be able to train and play as respected and valued masters women.
The Darebin Womens Sports Club (falcons.org.au) founded in 1990 has enjoyed huge success on and off the field. With a proud history of competing at both state league and grassroots level, the club is committed to the growth and development of sport for women and girls in the Darebin region and beyond.
Darebin Football Club has joined the women’s masters competition for the 2019 season primarily for FUN and to spend time with footy mates. Having strong teams that build terrific friendships, it was the opportunity to reignite those connections that was the catalyst for entering a team.
Manager Rebecca Hickmott says that the “AFLW also spurred us on. Watching our friends and former team mates in Daisy Pearce, Katie Brennan , Darcy Vescio , Lauren Arnell , Melissa Hickey , Karen Paxman inspired us to pull the boots on again.”
Darebin is also keen to invite women to the game and introduce others to the friendship and fun that a footy team produces, giving back to a game that has been created so much joy. The thought of having masters team also felt right as well with a well-established pathway for juniors into senior footy. The Club is keen to now bring past players back to footy and introduce the game to those that thought it had past them by.
“We are all very excited for the start of the season and looking forward to some speccies and laughs.”
De La Salle (delasalleocfc.com.au) will be unveiling its first ever women’s masters team in 2019. With a proud history dating back to 1955, De La Salle will field “nine teams, one club” this year, including its established open age women’s VAFA team and successful men’s masters team. The club, with half its committee now women, is excited to add a women’s masters team and is enjoying building its strong footy community with new players who are also the sisters, daughters, wives and mothers of past and current champions.
The family connection is especially strong in the O’Callaghans, with players Kate, Jane and Kerry, coach Pat and current club president Matt following in the footsteps of their father and father-in-law, a foundation member.
The inaugural team is made up of women living in and around East Malvern who are passionate about footy and fitness, many drawn from local schools and businesses by the excitement of training locally and joining the Masters competition. With most players also being mums, De La Salle expects enthusiastic cheer squads at their games!
A handful of 2018 foundation Masters players from this neighbourhood are part of the new team. Although they only have a few games of on field experience, this group is providing their teammates with plenty of encouragement and enthusiasm about the fun of playing footy, making new friends, and mixing with women from all across Melbourne. Expect to see De La Salle’s enthusiasm and passion out on the field.
Williamstown Superules (williamstownsuperules.com.au) is another of the new clubs that has taken up the challenge of building a new team from scratch. Established in 1990, the club has experienced a lot of success on and off the field, building a strong 5 men’s teams in the masters competitions. This year, the Executive Team committed to introducing masters footy for the inner west women in 2019.
After an intensive social media campaign, talking up the game, handing out flyers at AFLW matches, it has been the experiences at training that have been most influential in growing the Williamstown Masters Women’s team. Lead by several players, Charlie Hetherington, Jade Bradshaw and Esther Monks, all who had been involved in the 2018 competition as well as the National Masters Carnival, the training sessions have focused on learning new skills in a supportive and welcoming environment. Over a very short space of time, Williamstown has successfully developed a strong team spirit and electric atmosphere, encouraging women to try the sport for the first time.
After a recent Come and Try Session, President Sam Muir reflected on the emotional experience of hearing from the generation of women who had been excluded from football. “It highlighted to me that this team MATTERS and it is important for different reasons for different people.”
-Article by Brigid Ryan, 5 April 2019.