AFL North West will be more accessible than ever for younger players, with all juniors matches to be played on a Sunday in 2022 and, for the first time in league history, there will be a Youth Girls competition.
With more and more people pulling on the boots across AFL North West, there are not enough hours in the match day to accommodate all age groups and grades across all clubs on Saturdays, meaning junior matches will now be played on Sundays.
The move makes junior players the sole focus on their match day, allowing them to play more favourable times and not always kicking the dew off the park.
It also gives sports-mad youngsters who play other codes on Friday nights and Saturdays the chance to play AFL with their friends, developing new skills and creating forever-cherished memories.
With all AFL North West clubs being registered as Active Kids providers, the cost of registrations for multiple sports is more affordable than ever.
The new AFL North West Youth Girls competition is for young women turning 15, 16 and 17 in 2022.
It will see players compete against teams made up of girls only and is an important pathway from junior to senior competition.
AFL NSW/ACT will support North West clubs to host free Come n Try girls only sessions in the region across February and March for any girls interested in having a go at AFL.
All seven clubs are committed to running a Youth Girls team and will be gauging interest from the Come n Try sessions.
Plans are already in place for Come n Try sessions in Gunnedah on Saturday, February 12 and Tamworth on Sunday, March 13.
The season will commence in April with multiple matches being played as double headers in the same location.
This is being done so teams can share players in case any clubs facing off against each other encounter uneven numbers.
Despite the friendly atmosphere, Youth Girls is not just a participatory competition.
Finals will be contested and premiers crowned at the season's end.
As with juniors, Youth Girls matches will be played on Sundays.
The explosion of AFL participation in NSW and the ACT by women and girls is evident.
Around one quarter of registered teams in the state and territory are now women's and girls', and for every female football team there was in 2011, there are now 11.2.
"It's a credit to the volunteers who have previously run AFL North West that the League has grown to the stage where we will now have separate competition days for Seniors and Juniors," AFL NSW/ACT's competition co-ordinator for Northern NSW, Brad Greenshields said.
"It's only six years ago that AFL North West operated with just a Men's competition, now we're offering five grades covering boys, girls, men, and women and are having to play across both days of the weekend to fit everything in.
"It's also incredibly exciting to have enough depth and interest in the region to start a Youth Girls competition in AFL North West.
"Historically, it's been impossible for older girls to play footy - there just hasn't been a competition available.
"I look forward to watching this age group grow and develop and can't wait to see the trailblazing players of 2022 make their mark in the inaugural season."
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