PFL Women’s Competition becomes the largest in Australia Fri, May 13, 2022 - 8:25 AM

Commencing in 2018 with 16 inaugural teams, the Perth Football League women’s competition has seen a rapid growth in participation over such a short period of time.

In 2022, the total number of women’s teams has soared to 66 with multiple clubs now fielding two sides across the seven grades.

This currently makes the Perth Football League’s newly named Construction Training Fund Women’s League the largest senior community women’s competition in Australia.

Perth Football League Operations Coordinator Jill Saunders said she anticipates that the league is still a couple of years away from seeing a plateau in the growth rate as the competition continues to see rising participation numbers in its fifth year.

“The standard of the new teams is much higher than before, as we are starting to see the next generation of girls come through who have been playing since juniors and WAFLW players come down into the competition,” Saunders said.

Women's Competition growth since 2018:


Curtin Uni Wesley Women’s Coach Martin Edmunds has been there since the league's inception in 2018 and reflected on the beneficial impact that women’s football has made at his club:

“The introduction of women's football has completely changed the dynamic of the club and the players have brought with them an amazing level of enthusiasm, energy and engagement,” Edmunds said.

“From relatively humble beginnings at the formation of the league in 2018 to providing playing opportunities to over 75 female players in 2021, the engagement and growth of the women's teams at Curtin Uni Wesley has been surreal.”

“The women's teams across the Perth Football League have been developing at a rapid rate and can now be seen playing some outstanding football every weekend with the players and teams having improved out of sight since the formation of the league.”

Martin Edmunds alongside his 2021 A Grade team

There were plenty of hard-fought battles waiting for women who wanted to play the game. But this proved a point – football is not just a man’s game.

“We just put it out there for clubs who were interested in having a women’s side and the response was brilliant from clubs, players and fans alike.” WAFLW Football Operations Coordinator Ashlea Renshaw said.

Renshaw played a pivotal role in overseeing the implementation of the women’s competition into the Perth Football League back in 2018 as the League’s Football Operations Coordinator at the time.

“It’s not just a money-making scheme. It’s getting the girls to buy in just like you would for any other player at your club,” Renshaw said.

Former AFL National Manager for Female Football Development Jan Cooper is widely credited with being the main driving force behind the AFLW’s formation, but this did not come without a fight.

“Most the decision-making was male, pale and stale,” Cooper said.

“It was a pretty tough environment to try and make them realise that this was the right thing to do and that women do want to play the code because they’ve watched their brothers, fathers and partners play the sport – they love watching it but now they actually want to have a crack.”

Cooper said that before the introduction of the Perth Football League’s women’s competition, many players in the WAFLW wanted to play for fun, not necessarily make it to the elite level.

It is this ethos that plays out at local Perth ovals each Saturday morning in the Construction Training Fund Women’s League.

Renshaw recollected one particular player who seemingly embodied this ideal.

“I had a lady that played in a team and she was 53 years old,” she said. “She only played that one game and I contacted her and asked the reason why she played one game.”

“She said it was the first time she got to suit up and play footy, and she loved footy her whole life but never got the chance to play.”

“When she got the opportunity to play, she said it was something that she wanted to achieve and play the game that she loves.”

2022 CTF A Grade Women's Captains

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