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Tasmania Can Lead on Women's Football

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Tags: Women, AFL, Sport and Recreation

Senator Richard Di Natale | Leader of the Australian Greens,     Cassy O’Connor MP | Leader of Tasmanian Greens,     Senator Nick McKim | Senator for Tasmania

The Australian and Tasmanian Greens have identified an opportunity for Tasmania to have a team in the AFL’s national women’s league, and have written to Premier Will Hodgman and Opposition Leader Bryan Green offering to work with them to progress a proposal.

“The Greens believe a society that values women as equal to men must provide equal opportunities in every workplace, from Parliament to the playing field,” said Australian Greens Leader and former VFA footballer Senator Richard Di Natale.

"The health and social benefits of sport should be available to women and girls, as much as boys and men. A professional league would set a tremendous example.

“Women’s football is on the crest of a wave, and given Tasmania’s rich history of football, a team based on the Apple Isle would be a natural fit.”

The Greens say the club would be supported by a high-level academy to give talented young athletes the guidance and resources necessary to reach their potential.

In conjunction with the academy, the Tasmanian team would create opportunities and pathways for talented athletes and coaches to both perform at the highest level and stay in Tasmania.

“Football is a rare unifying force in Tasmania. It bridges divides of class, geographical area, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation and gender,” said Greens Senator for Tasmania Nick McKim.

“It also plays an important unifying role in our largely decentralised community. Football clubs have long been known to influence positive health social and employment outcomes. They provide opportunities for mentoring and growth that may not otherwise be available.

“A Tasmanian team would help make the women’s league a truly national competition. It would deliver significant benefits for Tasmania, in particular for participation in women’s sport, and acknowledge the massive contribution women already make to footy in Tasmania at all levels.

“It would provide pathways for women to aspire to play at the highest level in the sport of their choosing without having to leave Tasmania, and could provide significant impetus to efforts to establish a Tasmanian team in the men’s AFL,” Senator McKim said.

There are around 35,000 players, and an estimated additional 30,000 people actively involved in the sport in Tasmania. This is the highest per capita participation rate of any state.

“At least half the game’s audience are women, and it’s great that their place in the game is now being recognised and supported,” said Tasmanian Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor.

“The success of the Hobart Hurricanes men’s and women’s teams shows that Tasmanian sides can compete in high-level national competitions and they will be backed to the hilt by the locals.

“A women’s side in the national competition could also be a big step towards having a Tasmanian team in the men’s AFL. It would be fantastic, and slightly ironic, to see our women lending the lads a hand.”

The Greens estimate a proposal and application would cost less than $100,000 to compile, and consider it to be a worthwhile spend given the extensive benefits.

The model for selecting players is yet to be determined by the league, but the Greens’ vision is for the Tasmanian club to be based in Tasmania, have ‘Tasmania’ in its name, and have very strong local representation. Ideally, the team would play matches in both Hobart and the North.