Women’s football in the Pilbara is surging in popularity on the back of the newly formed South Hedland Swanettes — the first women’s team to be fully sponsored by an existing men’s footy club.
It has been a few years since a women’s competition existed in Hedland, but a come-and-try session at Kevin Scott Oval a few weeks ago gained the interest of about 20 girls.
Since then, the women’s team in Hedland has been taken under the wing of the South Hedland Swans Football Club and now they have close to 60 girls attending training, ranging in age from young teens to women in their mid-30s.
Local nine-a-side competitions already exist in Karratha, Roebourne, Tom Price and Paraburdoo but the Swanettes are working towards official affiliation with the South Hedland Swans Football Club.
The Swans are kitting the girls out, helping them gain new players and also providing them with a coach in league player Trevor Dhu.
“We’re on the ball with this because we wanted a women’s team that’s the first of its kind,” Dhu said. “We’re just trying to create an atmosphere where the girls come down to have a kick and learn something new.”
“At the moment we’re just learning the basics.
“No one here is perfect — we’re one club, it’s multicultural and we just want them to have a bit of fun and get to know each other.”
Presently, Karratha and Roebourne teams compete against each other in a round-robin competition every Friday, while the Tigers and Panthers from Tom Price and Paraburdoo play off against one another.
The Hedland team will start playing games against itself soon — in total they should play 19 games for the season, about five of which will be against teams from other towns at North West carnivals.
WA Football Commission Pilbara regional manager Vicki Agnew said the organisation was working towards a five-year plan whereby the women’s teams were all affiliated with existing men’s clubs, and the Swans were making an important first step. “We need to get the men’s clubs to see the value in branching out that way,” she said.
“Hopefully the other teams see the success the Swans have with it, it’ll increase their volunteer and membership base, the club culture will change to be more family friendly and they’ll be able to tap into more income and a new audience base.”
The WAFC is already in talks with the Port Hedland Rovers to try to get the club to take on a team.
Ultimately, Agnew wants the North Pilbara Football League to become a full day of football where the juniors play, followed by the women, and then the men’s reserves and league teams.
The South Hedland Swanettes train on Wednesday and Friday nights at Kevin Scott Oval from 6.30pm-7.30pm.