In a major boost for the growth of women’s footy across the nation, AFL Masters is the proud recipient of a $275,000 grant in the latest round of funding announced earlier this month by Sport Australia.
Sharing $10.3 million worth of grant funding, AFL Masters’ Footy Ladies project is one of 36 recipients across the nation to receive funding through Sport Australia’s Participant Grant program which has been designed to provide more opportunities for Australians to connect with sport and get physically active.
Federal Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck said the Australian Government was proud to invest in programs that bring communities together.
“Sport continues to face ongoing challenges as a result of COVID-19,” said Minister Colbeck.
“These grants will help increase participation in sport and physical activity by delivering free, inclusive, and high-quality programs for everyone to enjoy.”
“Through this grant program, we’re making communities stronger, more resilient, and active.”
AFL Masters’ Director for Women’s Football Pam Andrew was ecstatic with the news of the grant’s success.
“This grant will help us to achieve a long-term goal held by the national executive in creating more AFL Masters playing opportunities for more women throughout Australia”
“I expect we will kick some major goals towards bringing this dream to reality and all augurs well for our biggest women’s program ever at this year’s National Carnival in Adelaide,” said an overwhelmed Andrew.
AFL Masters’ President Steve Eurell echoed this sentiment, saying he anticipates the Footy Ladies project will build on the foundations laid by the organization over the last five years since women’s football was first played at the AFL Masters National Carnival in 2016.
“AFL Masters produced a strong case for funding with commitments from all of our nine-member State and Territory Associations who want to grow and develop women’s footy.”
“In combination with the AFL and the AFLW, we now have pathways for female players to play from junior to elite and then onto Masters football for those who love the game, want to stay fit and healthy, and don’t want to give it away as they travel through life’s exciting journey,” said Eurell.
Footy Ladies is a five-stage national program – from grassroots to international – aimed to encourage middle-aged/older women (over 34) to safely participate in Australian Football. The project will provide long-term benefits of coaching, being physically active, and less cost-prohibitive whilst playing for fun with social interaction amongst aged peers.
AFL Masters’ General Manager Dr. Adrian Raftery pointed out that the hard work is just about to begin both on and off the field.
“Whilst we are incredibly grateful to Sport Australia in providing these funds, it (the grant) is essentially seed funding for 2022 only and we have twelve months to try to make the Footy Ladies project sustainable over the longer term,” said Raftery.
“One of our first objectives will be to try and secure a multi-year naming rights sponsor to essentially replace this amazing but one-off grant so that the Footy Ladies program can continue into the future.”
The Footy Ladies project derived its name from the affectionate nickname given to AFL Masters’ Patron for Women’s Football Susan Alberti AC who was also delighted with the outcome.
“As a former director of the Western Bulldogs for twelve years, Western Bulldogs Vice President for three years, I know that football brings about wonderful camaraderie and lifelong friendships,” said Alberti.
“I hope that this Footy Ladies initiative will lead to substantially increased participation across the nation for Women’s AFL Masters resulting in the creation of new friendships and the continuation of a long-lasting enjoyment that sport can provide.”
Stephen O’Donohue, the Head of Community Football within the AFL said that the Sport Australia Grant would lead to significant social benefits across the nation.
“The AFL previously conducted research into the Value of an AFL Community Football Club and found that for every dollar invested in a community football club, at least $4.40 is returned in social value,” said O’Donohue.
“The research found that it does not matter where you live, how long or how often you are involved in a football club, or whether you are a player, coach, volunteer, or a supporter, people involved with a football club experience greater social connectedness, wellbeing, and self-reported physical and mental health than the general population because of being involved in a football club.”
Sport Australia Acting CEO Rob Dalton said the program will help more Australians enjoy the social, personal, and health benefits of being physically active.
“It was great to receive such high-quality applications. This diverse range of programs will encourage even more Australians of all ages and abilities to get involved in sport and physical activity,” he said.
“Through this grant program, we will support tens of thousands of Australians to get active and build a healthier and happier nation through sport.”