Code Swap

July 06th, 2017
Code Swap
The introduction of the women’s national football league has led to community football clubs introducing female teams as the sport’s popularity increases.

The Mount Lofty Devils Football Club added its inaugural women’s team in 2016, and this season added an additional women’s senior team and an Under 18 team.

Coach and Communications Manager at the club Matt Pistola said that the addition of the women’s team started out as just an idea between friends.

“A couple of local girls were talking to their friends and wondering if a women’s team would work,” Matt said.

“From there we held a meet and greet and realised there was a fair bit of interest and things just grew from there.”

The initial women’s team for the Devils had a strong season, finishing top of the ladder on points.

“Results were always of secondary importance for us, we had a focus on ensuring the girls learnt the game of football while having fun, and on field success was purely a bonus,” Matt said.

“And we actually ended up being named as the South Australian Women’s Football League Club of the Year in 2016.”

With two additional women’s teams added this year, the Mount Lofty Football Club continues to grow.

“We are picking up new players all the time and we encourage anyone wanting to have a go to come out, no matter what point of the season we are at.

“If last season was anything to go by, we can probably expect to pick up some more new players over the off season as interest in the sport continues to grow.”

With football growing in popularity, other community sports have found women making the decision to switch to footy.

Kirralee Thomas has moved to football with the Mt Lofty Devils for the first time this season, and was previously a member of the Aldgate Netball Club.

“I’ve always loved football and I’m a very passionate supporter of my team and the sport,” Kirralee said.

“I saw Lofty had a team last year, and knew I wanted to get involved this season, and I went out there and had so much fun. I had a lot of friends join the team too, and we started pre-season a lot earlier than what we would netball, so I’ve probably gotten my fitness up more this season.

“And it has been great to learn new skills and finally be able to say I play footy.”

In moving to football, Kirralee moved away from Aldgate Netball Club, where she’d been involved with netball for over 10 years.

“I would love to manage the two sports, but with final year uni and work, and footy being two sessions a week, there was just no way that would have been possible for me.”

President of the Hills Netball Association, Bronwyn Klei said that the association knew of cases where players had switched sports, or were managing the two.

“There are some stories of players moving to football, I think especially for Ironbank Cherry Gardens Netball Club because they’re attached to a football club,” Bronwyn said.

“But there are also plenty of stories of players managing both sports.

“I think what netball needs to do is be less worried about what colour your socks and scrunchies are or that your leggings are the right length, and make those changes that increase the inclusivity of our sport.

“Netball has to do all it can to encourage participation and getting kids on court.”

Bronwyn said that the increase in women playing football was something that should challenge netball clubs and all community sports to prioritse players first.

“I think community sport matters, community sport is a safe place for people where players are learning skills, and gaining fitness, but also learning resilience.

“I think it is not about the sport, the football or netball or whatever it is, it is always about people first, sport plays a big role in building a healthy community and healthy people.”

Bronwyn said that the growth of female teams in football was a positive thing for sport generally.

“People have said to me, am I worried about netball losing kids to football, but do you know what, the more opportunities there are for women to be involved in sport, the better, so I think it’s a good thing.”

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