Female football in the Goulburn Valley has taken another leap forward with the announcement of a new competition beginning next year.
The MBCM Northern Country Women’s League will separate for 2018 with AFL Goulburn Murray and AFL Central Victoria to launch their own competitions from next season.
The decision, 12 months ahead of schedule, was discussed at an Advisory Committee meeting in October and then approved by clubs at their end-of-season meeting held at the Kyabram Club.
AFL Goulburn Murray Region general manager Martin Gleeson welcomed the exciting new direction.
‘‘The competition was set up in conjunction with AFL Central Vic and AFL Central Murray and we committed to a two-year partnership before we would look to separate into two regional competitions.
‘‘However, the first season was a success ahead of our expectations and this has given us the confidence to split the league 12 months ahead of our original schedule.
‘‘We already have two more Goulburn Murray clubs expressing strong interest in joining the competition and with a more local competition we hope that will encourage more clubs to get involved.
‘‘Therefore we expect a six to eight-team Goulburn Murray competition in 2018 and with more youth girls teams also starting this will again show the growth and interest in female football participation,’’ he said.
AFL Central Victoria Region general manager Carol Cathcart highlighted the split of the league would benefit all teams in localising the competitions and reducing travel.
‘‘With the overwhelming success of our junior female competitions over the past years we feel that this is the perfect time to expand the senior competition.
‘‘We have one more team committed to play in 2018 and we are working with a second club who has a strong base of youth girls. We are hopeful that with the reduced travel we will be able to attract even more teams,’’ she said.
The MBCM Northern Country Women’s League kicked off in 2017 with Goulburn Murray clubs Benalla Saints, Echuca, Mooroopna and Shepparton joining Central Victoria’s Bendigo Thunder, Kyneton and North Bendigo with Central Murray’s Kerang rounding off the eight-team league.
Bendigo Thunder was the dominant side throughout the season and defeated Benalla Saints in the grand final to claim the league’s first premiership.