The popularity of women’s Australian Rules Football has risen considerably in recent years.
North West AFL introduced a successful women’s league in 2017 and the second season of the sport wraps up with the grand final this Saturday between the Tamworth Kangaroos and the Inverell Saints.
After fielding a team in the inaugural season Armidale’s New England Nomads club took the field this year with their women’s side.
The Nomads outfit made it through to the preliminary final before bowing out against the Saints.
Eliza Metz captained the team which was made up of first and second year players.
“A few Victorians which always helps but majority of the team for sure first time playing AFL.
“Even myself this was my second season every playing AFL. Safe to say it only takes a game or two to convert anyone to the sport.”
Five of this year’s squad played in the Nomads team in 2017 and Metz said they have grown as a unit through hard work and commitment.
“We struggled with numbers towards the end but compared to 2017 it was a considerable success,” she said.
“We had regular training provided by coach Liam Cudmore and a core group of girls really committed, some of whom was their first season, and sometimes first time ever playing AFL! Considering this, we had a good run.
“A few times we had both Tamworth and Inverell working hard for their wins – my favourite score being 36-30 with Inverell finishing only one goal up from us.
“We really had them running hard that game and I'm so proud of the girls for fighting in that one.
“We had some tough scores as well but it just brought the girls together stronger and more determined to get more numbers and train harder.”
With the sport new to the area and a lot of players trying it for the first time, results on-the-field were not always the focus of the club.
Metz said the camaraderie off it is what made the competition enjoyable and a large number of the playing group are eager to hit the field in 2019.
“The focus was really on getting a great team atmosphere where everyone is welcome and encouraged to play to their best, and make it enjoyable so people would come back with their friends,” she said.
“We had to also balance this with a high standard of training and working hard, which can be challenging but is important to be able to stay strong in the league
“As a team we've worked together, played some great games together and learnt from the not so great ones.
We've always got each others backs and its really helped a lot of women who have moved to Armidale and joined the team early when they got here to help settle in and get connections in the community.”
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