A new under 18s female football league will kick off in Victoria this weekend, with the establishment of the TAC Cup Girls competition.
The league is an expansion of the Youth Girls Academies Championships, which last year saw eight teams compete and future Collingwood footballer Georgia Walker lead her Dandenong Stingrays to the title.
TAC Cup Girls will mirror their male counterparts, with 12 regions fielding a side in a competition that will run from the first weekend of March until Good Friday.
The 12 competing teams are Calder Cannons, Northern Knights, Dandenong Stingrays, Geelong Falcons, Western Jets, Eastern Ranges, Gippsland Power, Sandringham Dragons, Bendigo Pioneers, Oakleigh Chargers, Murray Bushrangers and Greater Western Victoria Rebels.
AFL Victoria CEO Steven Reaper said TAC Cup Girls was a vital link in the pathway for young females between club football and AFL Women’s.
“Within footy circles, the TAC Cup has become synonymous with producing some of the games top talent,” Reaper said.
“With the launch of TAC Cup Girls, we’re really excited to see Victoria’s female talent develop and one day playing on the main stage in the AFLW.
“It’s also about creating a new generation of leaders and role-models for young Victorians.
“We can already see the first round of young women to come out of the Towards Zero Academies into the AFLW having a profound effect on our community, and we look forward to seeing that continue to grow.”
Some of the AFLW stars to have already been drafted out of the Academies system include Katherine Smith (Sandringham Dragons), Lily Mithen (Geelong/Western), Isabella Ayre (Bendigo Pioneers) and Deanna Berry (Calder Cannons).
As part of the TAC’s sponsorship of the competition, the young female footballers will participate in leadership workshops throughout the season encouraging good driving behaviour, to help Victoria achieve its Towards Zero vision for a safer future on our roads
Minister for Road Safety Luke Donnellan said the partnership between the TAC and AFL Victoria was about developing leaders on and off the field.
“The TAC’s partnership with AFL Victoria and junior football pathways is about creating champions on the field and safe drivers on the roads.
“It’s not only boys who play football, just like it’s not only boys who die on our roads.
“TAC Cup Girls gives our best young female footballers a shot at the big stage while helping to develop a new generation of safe young drivers.”
The TAC Cup Girls competition begins Saturday, March 4 at Punt Road Oval, Richmond, when the Murray Bushrangers host the Bendigo Pioneers.