Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Clockwise from top left: Boston Lady Demons,
Montreal Angels, High Park Lady Demons, New York Magpies.
It used to be the trash talk of every eight-year-old boy in Australia: “You kick like a girl!” But having spent the last four weeks in Canada and the U.S witnessing players like the Montréal Angel’s Lindsay Belzie blindly spin out of packs and snap goals over her shoulder, and New York’s Andrea Casillas clear the ball from half-back with laser-like precision, “you kick like a girl” can no longer be considered anything less than endearing.

And that is why the Boston Lady Demons now proudly wear “Kick like a girl, Score like a lady” emblazoned across the back of their team shirts.

Women’s footy in the east of Canada and the U.S has been bubbling along for around four years now, but May 2012 just might be the point in which women’s footy thrust itself in to the limelight, no longer an ad-hoc undercard to the men’s competition.

Boston Lady Demons: Kick Like
A Girl, Score Like A Lady.
The beginning of the massive month of female Aussie Rules started with Montréal’s “AFL Québec Pre-Season Cup”.  One of the few women’s teams that do not share its name or mascot with a men’s team, 2012 saw the Montréal Angels take another major step forward in establishing their own identity. Having previously worn the same playing strip as the Québec Saints men’s team, the Angels unveiled a new jersey and colour scheme (proudly produced by jersey supplier BIG ROOSTER FOOTY) completing the bold step of establishing themselves as a separate entity from the men’s team in nearly all respects. The Angels were joined in Montréal by the New York Magpies, Boston Lady Demons and a handful of Ottawa players from the newly established Swans women’s squad. The 9-a-side tournament was eventually won by the Angels, but both the Magpies and Lady Demons proved that they have plenty of talent coming through the ranks.

To check out footage from the Montreal tournament click here.

The following two weekends heralded the start of an exciting new chapter for women’s football in the Ontario Australian Football League. After a three team competition was established in the Toronto based competition last year, 2012 saw the league expand to six teams, including teams from Hamilton (one hour south of Toronto) and Ottawa (Five hours North-East). The impact has been huge as women’s footy becomes a regular fixture each and every week of the football season. The competition is doing so well that  the High Park Lady Demons were able to get more players to Ottawa recently than their men’s squad (who were runners-up in 2011) both teams playing at the same venue. The ensuing women’s game between High Park and Ottawa (who were helped out by a band of Montréal Angels for the day) turned out to be the main attraction. The tough 14-a-side match played on a slightly reduced sized field ended in a nail-biting finish, the Lady Demons claiming their stake as the team to beat in 2012 with a classy away win over their upstart Swanette counterparts.

Action from Philly: Boston/Montreal v New York/Balt/Ont
The massive month of women’s footy came to a close in Philadelphia where the originally planned U.S EAFL tournament between Baltimore, New York, Ontario (touring team) and the host city was enhanced by yet another female footy spectacular. With most women’s footy games consisting of 9-a-side matches, New York’s Andrea Casillas put forth the bold plan to play as close to a full squad as possible. Her idea paid off, and a 14-a-side match between New York/Baltimore/Ontario and the Boston Lady Demons/Montréal Angels was played out on a pitch 130 metres in length. The wide open spaces allowed the players to experience the full extent of the game, a mesmerising run down the wing that included two bounces, impressive pack marks and a host of highlight reel goals just a few of the crowd pleasing moments for the day.

To check out highlights from the women's Philly tournament click here.

It’s hard to believe that little over 12 months ago women’s footy matches in the region were few and far between. The growth in that time has been remarkable, and only possible due to the great deal of hard work from the people who laid the foundations in the early years. The sentiment is that when it comes to recruiting new players, women leave the men for dust. The High Park Demons a prime example boasting player numbers in the mid 20’s already. Many women’s teams are starting with only two or three players, training with the men and finding games as top up players for opposing women’s teams while they recruit. The ability to transform those few players into a 9-a-side ready unit for competition has been the cornerstone to success, and hopefully it will be the recipe for many more teams to come.

The only question a football team ever asks itself once the women’s squad is established is: “Why didn’t we do this earlier.” If you’re at a club that is without a women’s footy team, the time to recruit that first single player is now.