The SANFL Statewide Super Women’s League will expand to six teams in season 2018 after the resounding success of the inaugural season in 2017.
South Adelaide will join existing clubs Norwood, North Adelaide, Glenelg and West Adelaide, while Sturt, Woodville West Torrens and Central District will be invited to apply to join the competition in season 2018.
Off the back of the inaugural AFLW season and the history making premiership of the Adelaide Crows, female football is flourishing in South Australia. There are now 3,732 women playing across the state, an increase of 35%.
While those numbers are impressive, it’s the junior girls’ competition where the growth of female football is striking.
The number of girls teams in the SANFL has jumped from 16 to 62, with the 1,443 girls registered across those teams representing a growth of 154%.
In 2017, one in eight SANFL juniors and one in six Auskickers is female.
SANFL’s General Manager of Football Adam Kelly said the SANFL was committed to growing female football across the state and providing opportunities and pathways for players looking to the AFLW.
“2017 was an outstanding success and was reflective of the enormous growth in females playing the game across all levels of the game,” Kelly said.
“The decision to expand to six teams with a longer season represents an important evolution for the competition.”
With the expansion of the league, the season, which will commence in February, will lengthen to ten rounds plus a two-week final series.
South Adelaide Chief Executive Officer Neill Sharpe said the club was proud to add a women’s team to the female football programs.
“The support and enthusiasm from within our junior girls talent pathway over the past two seasons has been fantastic, culminating in our under-16s winning the 2016 premiership in their second Grand Final appearance in as many years,” Sharpe said.
“We are delighted to extend our female programs to the senior ranks and now offer the many talented female footballers in the southern suburbs a clear pathway to pursue a career at the highest level.”
Unlike other strong football states, South Australia has worn the discouraging evaluation that the state lacks depth and talent.
Earlier this year in the first round of the NAB AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, the South Australian team won their two matches against Tasmania and the Northern Territory convincingly, holding their opposition to just nine points in both games.
Considering those encouraging results, the significant growth of female football in the state and after the Crows claimed the inaugural premiership – with a team that boasted ten players from the SANFL Women’s State team, including the inaugural AFLW Rising Star Ebony Marinoff and All Australian Courtney Cramey – you have to wonder how much longer that evaluation will stand.