By: Daniel Cencic
CHIRNSIDE Park has received a boost ahead of the 2019 season, with AFL South East approving the transfer of the club’s top-tier senior women’s team into the Deakin Uni Eastern Region Women’s competition.
The decision was handed down by AFL South East’s commission earlier this week and has been met with elation amongst the club.
The move means a more integrated club for the Panthers, as the women have previously had to travel significant distances for matches but are now able to play locally, with the club expected to welcome back past women’s players to the fold as a result.
The transfer is also expected to ease the demands on club volunteers with all teams based at the one venue.
The Panthers had previously competed in AFL South East’s South Eastern Women’s Division 1 competition, recording five wins and eight losses last season.
Chirnside Park’s existing Eastern-based women’s team finished eighth on the Division 1 ladder in 2018, recording five wins, nine losses and a draw as the club looks set to field two senior women’s teams this year – one in Premier Division and the other in Division 1 of the Deakin University Eastern Region Women’s.
Chirnside Park is set to field two women’s sides this year. PHOTO: Chirnside Park Women’s Facebook page.
“It’s been something that the club has wanted for a long time,” club president Adrian Birt said.
“It gives us the opportunity to bring more female participants to our football club and knowing that we’re going to be playing other local teams in the competition, particularly in the top division.
“It was difficult but now we’re all under the one banner and the one league – we look forward to having double-headers.
“It’ll be great for the community more than anything.”
Club secretary and stalwart Danielle Skillern has a long and storied history at the club having watched it evolve over the years.
“I’ve been involved in the club from when I was an early teen and my brothers have played and my parents are life members,” Skillern said.
“As one club and us progressing, and us having a presence in the local area with so many other clubs having women’s, for us to now have our top team, and our strong girls being back in the EFL is going to make it so much better for our club and for the strength of women’s football in the local area.
“We haven’t been known as having a top team as we haven’t had a presence in the local area, but we’ve had so many girls go through VFL and TAC Eastern Ranges – Jayde Van Dyk, our number one player, is at Carlton now.”
Senior women’s coach Mick Carusi is thrilled at the prospect of fielding two senior women’s teams in 2019.
“These young ladies enjoy their footy and we feel now as a collective group having two sides that we’re working on and being part of a great league like Eastern will take the club forward,” Carusi said.
“They’re collectively all working hard together and we’re building that one-club culture.
“I’m excited for them and I’m excited for the club.
“If there’s anyone in the broader community looking for a game of footy, I’d encourage them to give Chirnside a go.”
Skillern thanked AFL South East for its understanding.
“South East were great to us and everything, but this is going to help the women’s comp in the area, it’s going to be fantastic,” she said.
“They (AFL South East) were very accepting of us wanting to do the change.
“When we got presented with the opportunity to come back across to the EFL, we had to put forward our case and why we wanted to transfer out.
“It wasn’t that one comp’s better than the other, it’s us re-aligning back into our traditional home league.”