Rise of AFLW triggers women’s league in the Kimberley

Participation numbers are skyrocketing since the AFLW started three years ago. Photo provided by the AFL.

The number of female athletes taking part in Aussie Rules football is booming, as 49% of Indigenous Australians are now playing organised sport.

The latest AusPlay survey shows around 20,000 women have started playing Aussie Rules since the AFLW started. It makes it the highest increase in participation of any women’s sport in the country since 2016.

The AFL is seeing female participation jump across the country, especially in remote areas.

Indigenous participation in all sports is also on the rise, with 50,000 people taking up a sport more than three times a week between 2016 and 2018.

Stories of significant change have popped up around the country, with one stand-out in the Kimberley.

The third women’s Kimberley Football League season begins on May 4th.

Hundreds of women across the Kimberley came together for the first organised premier women’s competition in the region in 2017.

Inspired by the AFLW, several teams started training and playing the odd friendly game.

That’s when Central Kimberley Football League football manager Geoff Davis noticed 50 Yungngora women training at Noonkanbah Station.

Davis, with over 30 years’ experience as a football development officer in the region, started to bring together the essential elements for the Kimberley Football League.

Teams from around the Kimberley took part in the last two years, with the Looma Eagles taking home the inaugural title and Cable Beach winning last year’s Premiership.

The impact on the communities has been profound, with people coming together to break down previously unbreakable walls.

“Before the Looma Lady Eagles began, we all had our own small circle and would not hang with certain people,” Looma Centre’s Dariah Killer wrote on ABC Haywire.

“But as a team, all the girls learned to grow together and build a strong bond.”

The third season starts this weekend, when the Premiers from the first two seasons – Cable Beach Greenbacks and the Looma Eagles – go head to head in Broome.

By Keiran Deck

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