The development of women’s Australian rules football in the United States has taken another big step with the foundation of a team in Los Angeles.
Based out of Sherman Oaks, the Los Angeles Dragons are the first women’s team to be formed in Southern California since the creation of the former Orange County Bombshells in 2003.
The birth of an Aussie rules team in the USA’s second most populated city came about through a conversation between two women who were playing for the Sacramento Suns, Aileen Yoon and Leilani Cordoba Silvio.
“We discussed potentially starting a team together,” Yoon explained.
“Ironically, the USAFL announced that the 2017 Nationals would be in [nearby] San Diego, and we felt that would be a perfect opportunity to start the team.”
The previous few months had been a boom for women’s footy on the West Coast, with San Francisco taking out the Division One title, Sacramento registering its first win at the Nationals, and Portland and Seattle players teaming up to take out the Division Two title.
At that same time, another women’s footballer, Larin Sullivan, was looking to establish another team on the West Coast and was using the working title of ‘Southern California Catalinas’.
Yoon and Cordoba Silvio reached out to Sullivan as the trio joined forces, and soon the search was on to find women to form an Australian footy side in LA.
From the beginnings of a simple Facebook page, the word of an LA women’s team spread, with numbers participating in pre-season training slowly building.
“We started training in mid-December for pre-season, and every session we’ve had about eight to twelve girls show up,” Cordoba Silvio said.
“I [also] have about 10 other players who are really interested and are going to start coming towards the end of February.”
With the USAFL Nationals eight months away, plenty of football is being scheduled by the LA women to help gain much needed match experience before that big weekend in mid-October.
“We’ve talked about playing some games on the same day as the men’s; I believe we already have a game with San Francisco set,” Yoon explained.
“We’re at a good progression where when the men start playing their metro [nine-a-side] games in the South Bay area – we’ll be tacking on and playing a few metro games along with them as well.”
Looking beyond the Nationals in October, there’s hope that there will soon be a regular schedule of games between the West Coast sides, and possibly an official league/conference given the rapid development of women’s footy in the west.
“When I started playing, which was just this past year, all the women wanted to spread the word and get it going,” Yoon said.
“I think eventually that’s our goal, to continue to meet other women in other cities, and have a regular schedule of playing full [18-a-side] teams, instead of just at those bigger, bigger tournaments.”
The Los Angeles Dragons women’s Australian football team trains every Saturday afternoon from 1pm in Sherman Oaks.