Girls’ night out at Etihad Stadium

From the Melbourne Weekly 28/5/2012

Girls’ football teams from Hampton Rovers and East Sandringham will play in the middle of Etihad Stadium on July 20.

The game, to be played at half-time of the Geelong-Essendon fixture on a Friday night, is part of Women’s Round, which celebrates the contribution women make to football.

Girls’ teams from primary schools have played at half-time of an AFL game before but this will be the first match between two teams from suburban football clubs.

East Sandringham president John Hine says it is a testament to the growth of girls’ footy in the Bayside area. “When we started this we thought [we’d get] 60–80 girls and it would be a huge success.”

“We got 176 and it continued to grow. There’s momentum behind it and we’ve shown there’s a lot more interest than even the world’s biggest optimist could have guessed. This game is only going to further the profile of girls’ footy.”

Hampton Rovers team manager Felicity Frederico is ecstatic at the support from the AFL. “It’s a great initiative,” she says. “It’s great to see the AFL acknowledging female participation more and more in games and administration.’’

She says Aussie Rules is providing girls with opportunities not afforded to them by other sports. “When I announced it to the girls there was a lot of excitement. It’s fantastic the community have thrown their support behind it because you can’t rely on traditional methods to get girls to play. You have to break through the clutter and the Etihad match is something that’s not happening in netball or soccer.”

Frederico had the original idea and took it to the South Metro Junior Football League, which raised the prospect with AFL Victoria.

SMJFL general manager David Cannizzo says the league jumped at the opportunity.

“They told us these types of things need to be organised early on and most timeslots had been locked out. Luckily Women’s Round worked out and this is really exciting.

‘‘Hampton and East Sandy have been instrumental in driving girls’ footy and there is nothing better than playing in the AFL teams’ guernseys in the middle of Etihad on a Friday night.”

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