Two clubs want to play women’s football, only one gets in for 2022

The Mount Alexander Falcons is pushing to become Castlemaine’s second senior women’s football team after its initial application was rejected.

AFL Central Victoria received two applications for a senior women’s team and approved the Castlemaine Football Netball Club’s application.

The Falcons, which was modelled on the successful Preston-based Darebin Falcons, has built its community on inclusivity with a focus on female and gender-diverse inclusion and leadership.

President Louise Conwell said the club has not been given a reason why the application was rejected but believed it could be based on longevity potential.

“Any concern about the sustainability of women’s football has to be treated very carefully,” she said.

“With the numbers we have committed and as well as the financial position we’re in, we’re confident that [sustainability] isn’t a concern.”

‘The need for an alternative’ to traditional football

The Mount Alexander Falcons have 60 players signed for the 2022 season.

Mount Alexander Falcons president Louise Conwell during training.(Supplied: Penny Ryan photography)

Ms Conwell said the club was founded on what they called “a lack of opportunity for women and gender diverse people” in existing sporting environments.

“We’ve identified the need for an alternative and I think that’s been vindicated by the outstanding response from the community in the Mount Alexander region,” she said.

With such high numbers already committed, Ms Conwell believed two clubs should be allowed to play.

“Certainly, where there is that desire and that demand, I think it’s incumbent upon the AFL, AFL Central Victoria and the commission to enable those opportunities to give people the green light.”

Club’s long history delighted to expand and build

Two women and a man stand in a row in front of the castlemaine football club rooms
Castlemaine Football Netball Club’s women’s operations manager Georgia Banks, coach Tiahna Cochrane and president Caleb Kuhle.(Supplied: Castlemaine Football Netball Club.)

Castlemaine Football Netball Club has a 162-year history and president Caleb Kuhle was delighted to welcome a senior women’s team.

Mr Kuhle said there has been a push to build inclusivity and a sense of belonging into the club.

He saw that as crucial to the community, after being touched by the suicide of a teammate.

“They felt like there was no one around for them in a club where you’re playing with 21 other people on a Saturday,” he said.

“That was possibly the worst thing that I still have to live with. While I’m at Castlemaine there will never be a non-inclusive environment.

“Yes, Central Victoria does need an inclusive club and it’s got one.”

Castlemaine has appointed local and former AFLW Carlton player Tiahna Cochrane as playing coach for 2022.

The ABC reached out to AFL Central Victoria for comment, but they have not returned our calls.

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