SANFL Women’s competition kicks off tonight

The wave of enthusiasm for women’s footy in South Australia gets a boost with the opening round of the SANFL Women’s competition this Friday night.

Operating in a similar fashion to AFLW, the South Australian version will be comprised of four teams playing each other twice in six rounds of double-headers, before the Grand Final on Saturday, April 1 at Unley Oval.

The four-team SANFL Women’s competition begins tonight at Coopers Stadium in Norwood. Image: SANFL

The competition will adopt the AFLW’s 16-a-side format; however, there will be a reduced bench of four players and quarters will be longer, going for 20 minutes with no time on.

Norwood, North Adelaide, Glenelg and West Adelaide were the four SANFL clubs chosen to field a side in the women’s competition, with each having a playing list of 35.

Football Operations Manager for SANFL Women’s Tom Hurley told Girls Play Footy that players were allocated to each club on a basis that would ensure evenness across the competition.

“We didn’t go down the draft process,” Hurley explained.

“What we did is, using our Female Talent Manager [Emma Gibson], she identified working with a few other groups a talent list, [which] she then distributed to each club.

“In a nutshell that can be broken up into three key groups: one being the [Crows] AFLW contracted players, they will be very unlikely to participate at SANFL level, but were assigned to each club.

“The next level players are those ‘train on’ players with the Adelaide Crows women’s team, and they were evenly distributed again amongst the clubs.

“The third lot of players are the larger group, the majority that will be making up each SANFL Women’s team.

“They mainly came from the amateur football league [SAWFL], but also other talent pathways.”

Another way the SANFL Women’s competition will be following the AFLW’s lead is by throwing open the gates to all matches to encourage as many spectators as possible to attend.

“Excitingly it is free entry for the public, so it’s a great opportunity for families, particularly young families, to get out and see some female football at local SANFL venues.

“They’ll be played in the minor rounds at Norwood Oval [Coopers Stadium] and at West Adelaide’s home ground, City Mazda Stadium.

“Both are under lights venues, and the majority of the matches will be played through that twilight-night time fixture.”

The league has also confirmed that all SANFL Women’s matches will be live streamed, and with no AFLW game scheduled on opening night [Friday, February 17] Hurley is hopeful a big online audience will watch the first double-header.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for us to stream live games with commentary, and live stats through Champion Data.

“It will be the first time we’ve done that for a consistent period of time in a SANFL competition, so for all of those fans [outside of Adelaide] I encourage you to jump online onto the SANFL website.

“[Also] all the live stats will be on the SANFL app, so it’s social media friendly and  it’s the way we’d like people to participate if they can’t get their live.”

SANFL Women’s Round One – Coopers Stadium, Norwood
Friday, February 17
6.00pm (ACDT): Norwood vs North Adelaide
8.10pm (ACDT): Glenelg vs West Adelaide