K rock Football

North on the brink

 

North Geelong celebrates winning the inaugural AFL Barwon Senior Women’s Division 1 Premiership. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

REIGNING AFL Barwon Women’s Division 1 premier and local female footy trailblazer North Geelong is facing the prospect of not fielding a team in 2019.

A mass exodus of players has seen the Magpies, who held the VFL licence for the region in 2016, struggling to have enough numbers for the opening round of the season on April 7.

“At this point of time, we may not have one (a team),” president Jason Habib said.

“We had 14 last week at training, and 12 of them were new girls.

“We may still scrape in get a side … AFL Barwon has given us until the death knock to see what we can do.”

The departure of highly respected coach Shannon Knox to a role at Geelong Amateur has seen at least seven players follow her to KFC Oval.

Others have joined St Mary’s, Torquay and Geelong West.

However, Habib admits a lack of a junior structure has also had an impact.

“But it was pretty hard for us because we lost our junior (boys) structure, so it was hard for us to get women’s players at the junior level to come in,” he said.

“Another thing we discussed this week is that North Geelong has been the trendsetters, but now girls might now not come to North Geelong thinking they might not get a game.

“A few have gone to (Geelong) Amateur.

“If one goes, they all play as friends and they go together.”

AFL Barwon is monitoring the situation, with the local governing body meeting with the Magpies, who will be co-coached by club great Carlos Gomez and Aleisha McLean, last week.

“They’ll put us in the fixture for now, but they don’t know which division,” Habib said.

“We don’t care if it’s Division 2. It’s very important for this club to have a women’s footy side.”

Habib has raised concerns with allowing clubs to field a second team in just the second season of the competition.

“I think AFL Barwon have done too quick too early; they should have cut it off at one side,” he said.

“The work that Geelong Amateur and St Mary’s have done with their junior structure is sensational – they’ve seen the future of women’s footy and they’ve done their juniors.

“But what they’ve done with two sides for Amateur and (Geelong) West, they’ve just gone too big.”

Women looking to play football in season 2019 can contact Jason Habib on 0418 754 902

Twitter: @tom_king79