Port Stephens AFL announce women's team for 2018 Black Diamond competition

POWER PLAY: Mel Nelson, Bea Edgar and Wendy Pitcher, all of Medowie, want more women to join them in training and join the club's first women's team. Picture: Sam Norris

POWER PLAY: Mel Nelson, Bea Edgar and Wendy Pitcher, all of Medowie, want more women to join them in training and join the club's first women's team. Picture: Sam Norris

Women will turn up in even stronger numbers in the Black Diamond AFL competition in 2018 with moves to establish a new team.

The all-conquering Nelson Bay Marlins will share the spotlight with the Port Stephens Power which has begun recruitment for next season.

Port Stephens Power president Mel Nelson has done much to encourage juniors to take up the game and she’s now eager to take the pitch herself.

“It’s great that AFL is growing,” said.

“I loved it as a kid but I never really had the opportunity to play.”

Nelson is among a group of mums who have begun to train at the Ferodale Sports Complex each Tuesday evening in preparation for next year.

JUNIOR FOCUS: Ashlee Gestrim, 10, Madison Jewell, 10 and Saskia Nelson, 7, with Port Stephens Power president Mel Nelson. Picture: Sam Norris

JUNIOR FOCUS: Ashlee Gestrim, 10, Madison Jewell, 10 and Saskia Nelson, 7, with Port Stephens Power president Mel Nelson. Picture: Sam Norris

The aim is not only to establish an open women’s team but under 12s and under 16s, and include women and girls who might not have played before.

The Power hopes to take the challenge up to the dominant Marlins in no time.

“We know there are women interested in the game,” Nelson said.

The Marlins had to turn players away this year so we know the demand is there.”

The Power announced its plans to field three new teams in the Black Diamond competition on Friday afternoon.

Marlins coach Lauren Cooper joined the women for the announcement, as a past junior of the Power.

“It’s growth in a new area and it’s great to see,” Cooper said.

“We look forward to the extra competition, in a positive way and some real local derbies in the future.”

SOLIDARITY: Port Stephens AFL president Mel Nelson and the Marlins coach Lauren Cooper want to see more women take up the game. Picture: Sam Norris

SOLIDARITY: Port Stephens AFL president Mel Nelson and the Marlins coach Lauren Cooper want to see more women take up the game. Picture: Sam Norris

Black Diamond AFL president Wal Bembic overseas the competition which will grow to 14 women’s teams in 2018.

The women’s comp began only three years ago with six teams.

“It’s becoming a big game,” Bembic said.

“What’s great to see is the Marlins aren’t worried about protecting their turf – there’s no road blocks – just an interest in seeing the game grow.”

Saturday, July 15, marks the competition’s first women’s only round, with six games scheduled for Newcastle No. 1 Sportsground.

“We made it a bye for the men so we can really put the focus on women,” Bembic said.

“We find the atmosphere at women’s games are great and we’re hoping for a big turn out.

“But the games will also be broadcast on Bar TV.”

Women are welcome to join the Power’s training sessions each Tuesday, 5pm, at the Ferodale Sports Complex.

It costs nothing to train and there’s no registration cost this year.

The competition will kick off next season in April.

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