AFLW making a difference for grassroots footy
WATCHING women's AFL is making South Burnett Saints player Reanna Fenton a bigger footy fan and a better player.
"I have something to watch and learn from. Before the women I only had the men to watch, they are a lot bigger and scarier, and AFLW is a lot more relatable,” she said.
"Because it is more relatable I can see myself in the same situations. They don't have the same skill set but it is still engaging and the girls have more of a fight.
"There are a lot of people out there that diss women's AFL because it is not as skilful as the men's game, but that will come with time and as they say practice makes perfect.”
Fenton is not alone in becoming more interested in the game as a result of AFLW.
In Queensland in 2018 women's participation grew by 18.85 per cent to account for 42.06 per cent of the state's players.
AFL general manager of game development Andrew Dillon said AFLW is getting more women kicking a footy nation-wide.
"The NAB AFL women's competition has played a key role in contributing to an outstanding increase in football participation, growing by 14.42 per cent to reach a figure of 530,166, reflecting 32 per cent of all participation,” he said.
From the first year the South Burnett Saints played in the AFL Darling Downs women's competition, Fenton has been in the team.
With more women playing, she has seen the quality of the Darling Downs competition strengthen.
"I have been able to tell the teams' skills have developed a lot more and the coaching level has sky rocketed,” Fenton said.
Fenton will captain the Saints for the 2019 season and is counting down until the season starts in May.
"I love being able to get outside, get fit, meet new people and be around a great bunch of girls that will always have your back,” she said.
"It is very important for the girls around here to have a team to play in. With all the sporting teams having women's teams it is giving us the opportunity to get fit with a group of women who all lift you up and push you.
"I am always scared of doing an ACL, but it is still really fun.”