A Players Perspective
I am writing this blog in response to the pending decision on the WAFLW Senior Development competition.
First and foremost, I am extremely disappointed that I even have to write this email. At this point I am sick and tired of women having to fight tooth and nail to exist in this space. We are constantly treated like we should just be happy to have a competition. Just be happy that we get to play, accepting inferior standards than those that have been set for our male counterparts.
It is not good enough; we deserve a pathway for young girls and women to follow to increase the capabilities and strength of the competition at the top.
I don't understand why the men are able to have a competition to suit at every level, but we aren't?
I agree that Senior Development was not always a level above Community, but it is now. It wasn't always a level above the Youth Girls, but it is now. At our club we constantly have had feedback from girls coming from the Community level and Youth Girls saying how much harder the competition was from their respective competitions.
One of the reasons I have read as to why the Senior Development competition may be scrapped is because it is believed to have become a pathway out of football for those who are no longer capable of playing WAFLW league. I don't believe this is an accurate perception of the competition. At our club, and across the competition, senior players are valued.
Who better for younger developing players to play against, train with and learn from? I think you are viciously underestimating the wealth of knowledge that these players bring. It is necessary for young players who have not experienced playing against bigger bodies to gain that experience in Senior Development. They need to see what it is like to play against those who have learned to play smarter, not harder. I just cannot comprehend not utilizing these resources to strengthen both competitions.
I don't understand why the football commission feels obligated to intervene with something that could be dealt with on a club basis. If clubs decide they want to maintain a youthful Senior Development squad, shouldn't they establish that themselves? Could you not just provide recommendations to the clubs rather than scrapping the whole competition?
Also what is to be expected of the players that aren't yet ready to play league? Are they supposed to complete preseason in the WAFLW, which starts in October, potentially not get any games, then go and play at the community level to get game experience? All while trying to juggle work, studies and time with family and friends, and not being paid to play.
Threatening a hiatus, even a temporary one, makes me feel like you see the women's competition as disposable. That you aren't truly invested in growing the sport for women. The fact that this decision has gone to the media without proper consultation of the clubs, staff or players adds to this feeling of disposability. It is completely unfair that we feel our game is being held to ransom by it's governing body.
The SANFLW is just about to introduce a Reserves competition, build their player pool and strengthen their competition. All while you want to get rid of ours, diminish the pathway and launch us backwards.