Baulkham Hills Girls go their own way

Coach Jana Webb with Zenae Pavell, Maddy Smith, Tahnee Sparks,Shayla Cromie, Natasha Gold-Smith, Ashleigh Cooper and Kirilee Stanmore By Peter Kelly

THE Baulkham Hills Hawks will field its first all-girls teams this year, thanks to the driving force of two local parents.

This article originally appeared in the Hills Shire Times, by Stacey Roberts

Baulkham Hills Australian Football Club’s registrar and girls’ manager Kylie Stanmore and committee member Kristen Groll decided to put together an all-girls team for their daughters to play in after the mixed competition became too challenging.

“Our girls have played AFL since they were five, but they were getting to the stage where playing with the boys was getting a bit rough,” Stanmore said.

“So we wanted to get an all-girls team together.”

Stanmore and Groll advertised the new all-girls teams at local schools and the club, and received an overwhelming response.

About 40 girls signed up for two teams — U14 and U18 — this season.

Stanmore said the participation rate was “incredible”.

“It makes us very proud to see that we’ve achieved something like this,” she said. “But it’s good for the girls, and they love the AFL and their footy.

“For them to be playing the sport they enjoy with their friends — there is nothing better.”

The U14 team is one of eight in the Western Sydney Youth Girls U15 competition, which will be held this year for the first time.

The U18s will play in the existing Sydney Harbour Youth Girls competition, which has 11 teams.

The U14 team will be coached by Blacktown Magic’s Jana Webb, with the U18 coach yet to be decided.

“We’re trying to keep it all female orientated; they’ll have a female coach, a female manager and an allgirls team,” Stanmore said.

Stanmore’s 11-year-old daughter Kirilee had always played for the Baulkham Hills Hawks in a mixed team, but she found the game became tougher as she got older.

“I joined (football) because my brother started playing and then we started kicking the footy out the front,” she said.

“It was fun until we got to last year and we had to start tackling.”

She will play in the U14 team along with five of her friends who signed up, and said she was looking forward to making new friends in the all-girls competition.

Groll’s 11-year-old daughter Tahnee had played Australian rules since she was four, but chose not to play last year.

“It was a bit daunting,” Groll said.

“Last year when they were playing U11s they would have been in Div 1 so they’re pretty gung ho and serious about their footy.”

Groll said the teams were a mix of experienced players and those with “no AFL exposure at all”.

Novotel Norwest has sponsored the teams, providing jerseys, shorts and socks.

The season starts in April.

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