In a first for female football, AFL Victoria will establish Victoria Metro and Victoria Country teams to compete at the 2013 AFL National U18 Youth Girls Championships, to be played in regional Victoria.
With the significant growth of female football in country Victoria, AFL Victoria will restructure the Under 18 Youth Girls High Performance program to focus on Metro and Country, replacing the existing Victoria and AFL Victoria Development teams that have competed at the Championships since their inception in 2010.
AFL Victoria’s General Manager Grant Williams said the time was right for the restructure.
"We’ve enjoyed tremendous growth in regional Victoria in recent years. It is appropriate that we provide our regional girls with the opportunity to access a more localised high performance program.
"Youth Girls participation in regional Victoria has increased by 177% between 2009 and 2012, with competitions and teams to be based in Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Warrnambool, La Trobe Valley, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Wodonga and Echuca in 2013," said Mr Williams.
AFL Victoria’s Female Football Development Manager, Chyloe Kurdas, sees the restructure as great reward for the investment and faith in female football by country leagues and clubs.
"Our vision has always been to ensure that our regional girls have access to the same opportunities that their metropolitan peers do.
"A Victoria Country Under 18 team provides country girls with a legitimate sporting career path in Australian football and will support our strong and thriving community leagues in country Victoria," said Ms Kurdas.
AFL Victoria has appointed Paul Groves and Shaun O’Loughlin as coaches of the inaugural Victoria Metro and Victoria Country Under 18 Youth Girls teams respectively.
Groves, a former TAC Cup Assistant Coach with the Sandringham Dragons, has been the Head Coach of the AFL Victoria Development team for the past two AFL Youth Girls Championships.
Having been involved in the development of many of Victoria’s emerging female and male stars he is a well credentialed appointment. Groves will also complement his Victoria Metro coaching duties with those of the new Sandringham Dragons Youth Girls Academy.
O’Loughlin was appointed Head Coach of the inaugural North Ballarat Rebels Youth Girls Academy at the beginning of 2012. His ability to integrate the country girls and manage a new Academy program made him the logical choice to lead the very first ever Victoria Country Under 18 Youth Girls team at the 2013 AFL National Championships.
Identified as an emerging talent in coaching, O’Loughlin will also head up the North Ballarat Rebels U16 boys team in 2013.
An announcement regarding the venue and dates for the 2013 AFL National U18 Youth Girls Championships will be made in mid to late December.