By Graham Fischer
SA Women’s football
History will be made at Coopers Stadium (Norwood Oval) on Friday night with the opening round of the inaugural Statewide Super Women’s league competition conducted by the South Australian National Football League.
There are four teams in the competition – Glenelg, North Adelaide, Norwood and West Adelaide – and all feature on Friday night in a double header.
Norwood take on North Adelaide at 6pm in the first Statewide Super Women’s game followed by Glenelg playing West Adelaide at 8.10pm.
Norwood is coached by Steve Symonds, North by Matthew Slade, West Adelaide’s mentor is Brooke Copeland and Narelle Smith is in charge at Glenelg.
All coaches admit they are going into the unknown.
“The licences were only granted in December so it has been a rush to form a team and get them ready for the season,” said Brooke Copeland, West coach.
“While a few the girls have played a season or two in the South Australian women’s competition, there are also a number who have had limited experience and are coming from other sports.
“It is the same for all teams so it is going to be interesting and I’m looking for my side to be playing a lot better at the end of the season with match experience.
“It is only a six-week competition so it is going to be over before we know it but it is really exciting to be involved.”
Slade said he was finding it a good challenge to coach North Adelaide.
“Because we have had limited time together the challenge is to balance our training,” he said.
“While I have come through the professionalism of the SANFL men’s competition, I realise that for most of the girls it is a starting point for them so it is small steps as we build a team going forward.
“For many, I’m sure training previously had been going out for a bit of a run and a kick and catch and go home. Now we have fitness training, skills training and team structures. It is a completely different environment.”
Slade said he was excited to be involved in the inaugural Statewide Super Women’s league and looked forward to seeing the improvement from his North side as the season progressed.
Jake Parkinson, chief executive of the SANFL, said it was exciting times for women in football.
“We’ve seen strong growth in the women’s game across the State with participation jumping 60% across the various age levels,” Mr Parkinson said.
“SANFL has a commitment to provide more opportunities for young women, with the new Statewide Women’s League providing the necessary stepping stone for those aspiring to the elite AFLW level.
“We are extremely proud to provide the necessary platforms for women to participate, develop and excel in our great game, and we look forward to witnessing the evolution of our newest competition.”
There will be live streaming of all games in the Statewide Women’s League with live scores and stats accessible through the SANFL App.
Entry to all Statewide Women’s League games will be free throughout the season.