By Nick Creely
AFL Outer East is set to welcome two new teams into the Senior Women’s competition in 2021, with Pakenham and Beaconsfield crossing over from the South Eastern Womens.
Joining fellow Cardinia-based club Officer, who joined the competition last season after also being part of the south east, the two clubs will now become officially aligned with their club’s men’s teams into the future.
After establishing a senior women’s side in 2016, and enjoying premiership success along the way in 2017 in the club’s Division 2 team, the move makes sense according to Beaconsfield president Troy Robinson, who praised AFL Outer East for its exciting competition.
“The AFL Outer East is building a really exciting competition, which we’ve seen with the enthusiasm they’ve put into the men’s, and it’s really important for us that our women’s program stays aligned with our men’s,” Robinson told the AFL Outer East website.
“We’re excited to come in and make an impact in 2021. We have an exciting list and a fantastic mix of youth and experience.”
Pakenham, which is still inexperienced in women’s football, first established a senior side in 2018 and continue to build strongly with significant interest from the community.
Lions operations manager Tom Dalton also said it was important to align both the men and women teams moving forward.
“We want to be more united as a club and this will allow our fans to be able to support both teams on the same day,” he said.
“We think we’ll be competitive and we’re excited to provide a better pathway for our junior girls.
“We’re looking forward to a different competition and a chance to play against different teams on different grounds.”
The Outer East will run its first stand-alone women’s competition in 2021 as well as an Under 19s women’s competition, after working previously with the Eastern Football League, and regional general manager Aaron Bailey said it was exciting to see the growth of women’s football in the region.
“We’re delighted to be expanding women’s football in the Outer East with the inclusion of Pakenham and Beaconsfield in the senior women’s competition, and the introduction of an U19s competition,” he said.
“Both clubs have established women’s programs which will add considerate depth to our women’s competition in 2021 and beyond.
“It gives us the opportunity to increase women’s football participation in our league and bring the Outer East community together through double headers and new rivalries.”