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Wake up, It’s game day for Development Pathways.

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

The WAFL Women’s clubs have been blindsided by a recommendation last week to strip its league from 3 divisions down to 2, terminating the entire WAFL Women’s Reserves without exhausting any alternative options.

This could result in:

  • Displacing and removing over 120+ senior footballers from their community clubs, coaches and playing groups.

  • Reduction in equity and revenue received by clubs from the women and girls’ program

  • Junior players and aspiring Perth Football League amateur players won’t have a stepping stone into senior league, facing the same future of displacement should they not make the league squad.

The pathway between the junior and senior League teams in the WAFL men’s and women’s competition is the Reserves League. A proven pathway that provides training, games and a clear development bridge for juniors, cross coders, and seniors into the WAFL League squad as well as a safety net for injured players to work back to full capacity.

The Reserves League that is provided to the identical clubs that field the WAFL Men’s would be stripped away from the WAFL women’s should the recommendation be passed.

The basis of the recommendation is to strengthen the AFLW pathway by reducing the WAFLW competition and development pathway which is the Reserves League.

The recommendation was been put forward just 2 weeks prior to the start of pre-season training, with many clubs already appointing staff and coaches thus leaving players, coaches and support staff in darkness and distress.

The WAFLW Reserves League produces players who move on to excel in league, win league best and fairest, double Dhara Kerr medals and AFLW club best and fairest awards. It’s a proven development pathway in the Women’s game in WA and deserves the bare minimum of equal access, opportunities and due diligence as provided to the WAFL Men’s competition.

A petition that has gathered 13,500 + signatures in four days was started by Narelle Mcintyre who was the Player/ Coach of the 2021 Premiership winning Peel Thunder Reserves side.

Narelle stated “to remove the competition that is acting as the bridge for these girls without having something else in place does not make any sense.”

If we look at current AFLW West Coast Eagles player, Bella Lewis who has come through this pathway

  • In 2018 Bella Lewis was playing Rogers Cup and then

  • In 2019 she went onto win a premiership in the Reserves competition and was also awarded the best on ground in the grand final.

  • West Coast Eagles Women's drafted a young Bella Lewis as the number 3 pick in the draft in 2020

  • In 2021 Bella was crowned club champion of the West Coast Eagles.

If that is not an example of an elite AFLW pathway what is ?

For the future women's football in Australia let's hope the Reserve league is reinstated with a clear strategic plan going forward.

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