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West Coast Eagles

Eagles push for women’s licence

The West Coast Eagles is intent on presenting a compelling case to the AFL to ensure the league honours its commitment of a provisional licence to the club as part of the expansion of the AFLW.

When the Eagles missed out on a licence after submitting a thorough and detailed application to be part of the eight-team inaugural competition, the AFL short-listed the club as one of five to be part of the next phase of expansion.

The club is now preparing its submission to enter a female football team in the 2019 competition, which started so positively earlier this year with high attendances and remarkable media coverage.

Disappointed at being over-looked initially, the club is determined to secure a licence when the AFLW expands beyond the eight-licencees who were granted the opportunity to play in the first two seasons of the competition.

The responsibility of drafting the second application falls to recently-appointed General Manager - Community and Game Development Richard O’Connell.

“The West Coast Eagles are excited at the opportunity to complement the success of the club’s men’s team with a women’s team representing its substantial fan base. And so are our fans,” he said.

“The first women’s league ever in Australia was established in 1921 in the Western Australian Goldfields and we hope to continue this proud tradition with a West Coast Eagles team competing nationally in 2019.”

The West Coast Eagles actively support the current Western Australian Women’s State High Performance Academy including the Under 18 and 23 teams. Extending that pathway and connection will be key elements of the club’s proposal that must be submitted by the middle of this month.

The Eagles have enlisted the support of current player Drew Petrie and 2006 premiership utility player Adam Selwood (over 500 games of AFL experience), as well as some current players. Exciting small forward Willie Rioli, West Coast midfield and ruck coach Dean Cox and forwards coach Jaymie Graham recently held a session for Aboriginal girls boarding in Perth to pass on their knowledge of football’s fundamentals.

The Wirrpanda Foundation, which sits under the umbrella of the West Coast Eagles, was just last week awarded a $3m grant from the Federal Government to assist the foundation’s Deadly Sista Girls program to use football as an engagement tool for 600 indigenous girls.

“The West Coast Eagles are also active across the State supporting females to understand and participate through clinics, presentations and mentoring,” O’Connell said. “So far this season we have worked with about 1000 girls from around the State. Regional visits have included Bunbury, Busselton, Albany and Kalgoorlie.”

AFL Woman of the Year and WA Hall of Fame member Jan Cooper is assisting the West Coast Eagles to develop their submission and implementation plan. Her experience and insights are helping build an approach that is sustainable and collaborative.

About 80,000 females are playing football in Western Australia with a large proportion being supporters of the West Coast Eagles.

Through the club’s education outreach programs it engages face to face with over 70,000 school-aged girls per year. It is planned to integrate AFLW players into these programs to grow the number of role models to promote the important life skills of goal setting, leadership and nutrition.

The West Coast Eagles submission will highlight several key reasons Western Australia is ready for a new team:

1. Talent Pipeline: Build on the coaching and mentoring already being undertaken with the WA State High Performance Academy (Under 18 & 23 squads).
2. Elite facilities: AFLW requirements will be incorporated into the club’s new Lathlain Park training headquarters.
3. Grow audiences: Engage with over 600,000 West Coast supporters and the 75,000 females who make up our students in the club’s community/education programs
4. Diversity: The West Coast Eagles have a mature series of programs which work with multicultural and indigenous youth.
5. Sustainability: The club already has corporate partners proactively inquiring about sponsorship opportunities.