History will be made in Shepparton next year, as it becomes the first regional centre to host an AFL Youth Girls’ National Championships.By Damen Francis
History will be made in Shepparton next year, as it becomes the first regional centre to host an AFL Youth Girls’ National Championships.
The announcement was made yesterday at Deakin Reserve, the main venue for the carnival, which will run from May 6 to 10.
Held annually for the past four years, the championships will feature six state representative teams from across Australia, with Tasmania and Northern Territory to field players in teams from Victoria and NSW.
Victoria will be represented by two teams, including Victoria Country, which featured Mooroopna star Paige Baksh in last year’s competition.
AFL Victoria general manager Grant Williams was in Shepparton for the announcement and was excited about the prospects for the event.
‘‘First and foremost AFL Victoria was in the pool with all the other states to host the event, so we were delighted when the AFL acknowledged our submission,’’ Williams said.
‘‘Once we had that announcement we were very keen to take it to a regional location and what it does, is it provides the opportunity to get outside Melbourne.
‘‘Melbourne in footy season is very taken up by other football, including the AFL, and this is a unique event.
‘‘We were delighted that it ended up being Shepparton.’’
According to Williams, Shepparton was chosen for its combination of ‘‘fantastic facilities, great infrastructure and supportive council’’.
He said the hope was to encourage district girls to take up the sport.
‘‘Generally speaking, wherever it goes, whatever state it’s in, we generally try to use the event to promote girls’ football,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s the best standard of competition that a girl between the ages of 13 and 18 can play in .
AFL community participation manager Josh Vanderloo, who made the announcement, said it was part of a greater plan to produce pathways that will eventually lead to a national competition.
‘‘On a national scale we’re really trying to fill the female player participation pathway from NAB AFL Auskick all the way through to senior women’s football,’’ Vanderloo said.
‘‘We’re trying to fill the gaps where youth football and junior girls don’t currently exist, so it’s a real priority for us over the next five years and into the future.’’
Victoria has won the past three titles.
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