The 2019 AFL Wide Bay Womens Premiers, Hervey Bay.
The 2019 AFL Wide Bay Womens Premiers, Hervey Bay.

Wide Bay women’s AFL ready to bounce into season 2020

AFL: The first round of the AFL Wide Bay women’s competition kicks off this Saturday.

AFL Wide Bay Community Partnerships Co-ordinator Mark Mason said the competition had been growing bigger and better every year, and was gaining in popularity.

“Absolutely rapt to have another season starting of the 2020 Takalvans AFL Wide Bay women’s competition,” Mason said.

“The season’s been growing bigger and better every year, year on year, and this year the girls wanted it, so we gave it to them.

“They’ve got an extra two weeks of competition this year, made the season longer.

“We’re starting a bit earlier so the girls can get back and play other winter sports that they’re involved with.”

Mason said the organisation was glad to be part of the nationwide growth in women’s sport and welcomed the sponsorship of Takalvans.

“We’ve seen nationally that women’s sport in general – not only in AFL but in general – has grown a lot over the last three to five years and we want to be part of that growth market,” he said.

“The participants that we’ve had playing the game – the growth in the participants year-on-year has been the proof in the pudding for that.”

And while things have been running smoothly so far for the competition, the Maryborough team has pulled out, resulting in bye games once a week.

“It’s unfortunate that Maryborough isn’t in the competition this year.

“Look, I’m not sure what it is with the Maryborough community, but we saw a couple of clubs last season in various other formats of sport fade away,” Mason said.

He believes the Hervey Bay Bombers deserve to be favourites but is confident the other teams can match it with them.

“They’re certainly well-drilled.

“Hervey Bay, that’s a stronghold for Australian rules football in our region so it will be difficult to beat the Bombers side.

“But they are the leaders and they’re targeted now,” he said.

“It’s up to everyone else to catch them.

“I think we’ll see that it’s harder to get better when you’re already the best than what it is to be second or third best and to improve – so I’ve got no doubts that the other clubs are coming for them,” he said.

In a 2019 grand final rematch, the Bombers will play Across the Waves Eagles.

Bombers manager in 2019 Kay Duffy is returning.

Duffy believes the competition is wide open.

“We have lost 10 players over the off-season due to different reasons so it is a bit of the unknown for us,” she said.

The Bombers have recruited new players and will wait to see how the new combinations come together.

The match kicks off at Norm McLean Oval at 3pm.

Bay Power coach Michael Gay believes his team is looking good going into round 1.

“Our skill levels have improved and the team has been coming along well,” he said.

Gay understands he will not know how his team stacks up against the other teams until a few rounds in.

“It will be a bit of the unknown for a few weeks as there are new girls across the teams,” he said.

Gay is expecting a tough hitout in round 1 against Gympie.

“They were strong last year and can’t see why they won’t be this year.”

Both teams will start their campaign at 3pm at Ray Warren Oval, Gympie.

Brothers Bulldogs have the bye.