Girls face finals showdown
A JUNIOR girls’ footy team is at risk of having to forfeit its grand final because of a fixture clash and the refusal of the association to move the date of the game.
What is supposed to be the undefeated Piara Waters Junior Football Club’s Year 7-8 Grey’s biggest game of the year — a grand final against East Fremantle — is now in doubt because the scheduled time for the match clashes with a major representative netball carnival over the long weekend.
The grand final is scheduled to be played at 10am on Monday — the Queen’s birthday public holiday — but the timing means at least seven Piara Waters players would have to choose between sports, likely leaving both their football and netball teammates short of numbers.
Kelly Anderson, whose daughters Ava, 13, and Lily, 14, play both sports said the girls had been left with an impossible choice.
Ms Anderson said it was particularly disappointing at a time when the AFL was trying to grow participation among young girls.
“The toughest thing for the girls involved is that whatever they do, they feel like they are letting down their teammates,” she said.
“If they decide not to play footy then the footy team can’t play because they don’t have enough, and vice versa.”
Ms Anderson claimed both clubs had asked for a Friday night grand final and offered to host it at either ground if necessary.
The netball carnival is usually held in June but had been pushed back because of COVID-19.
“There is not a good solution other than to find a new time for the football grand final,” she said.
“How can we expect 13 and 14 year old girls to choose between two sports that they love and are talented at? We should be encouraging talented junior female athletes to continue playing AFL.”
The WA Football Commission said 93 junior football grand finals were scheduled in Perth over the weekend and a “significant amount of time” had been put into “scheduling fixtures in the best possible timeslots to accommodate as many of the competing teams as possible”, taking into account the availability of umpires and grounds.
“The unique circumstances created by COVID-19 in 2020 have been particularly challenging from a fixturing perspective, meaning football and other sporting events have overlapped where they previously would not have,” a spokesman said.