Player shortage puts women’s footy in doubt

Colac Imperials’ Taylah Hassett, Nikita Bucolo and Jemaya Hassett are urging any interested women or girls to come along to training at Central Reserve tonight, with the club at serious risk of losing its women’s football program due to dwindling numbers.

The Colac Imperials are making a desperate plea for women to take up footy, with the club at serious risk of losing its women’s football program.

Senior footballer and junior coach Taylah Hassett said the club had only had “about 10 players” across senior and juniors levels attend its pre-season training.

With team entries due to AFL Barwon in coming weeks, Hassett said things would need to improve drastically soon.

“A decision on junior sides has to be made this week, the club’s having meetings this week,” she said.

“At training we’ve had no under-15s, four or five under-18s and four or five seniors, which is concerning.

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“It’s not like men’s footy where you get an influx of players before round one.

“With women’s footy, what’s there is there.”

Dwindling numbers were already an issue last season, with the club withdrawing its under-18 side, and only 14 players playing at least half the club’s senior matches.

“I’m not sure if it’s the travel commitments or playing Sundays that’s making it hard,” Hassett said.

“With the new lights at Western Oval we’re hopeful of playing more games on Friday or Saturday nights,” she said.

“We didn’t have an under-18s side last season but there are a few girls from the 15s coming up.

“I’m confident we could pull an 18s side together.”

The Imps’ women’s program started in 2017, and has included two junior grand finals and a senior grand final in its short history, as well as producing two AFLW foot-ballers Darcy Moloney and Gabbi Featherston.

Hassett said it would be a shame to lose it.

“When we have numbers we’re always competitive,” she said.

“There’s a lot of talent around, and that’s been proven with the amount of girls we’ve had come through the Geelong Falcons or get drafted (by AFLW clubs).

“I’d hate for us to lose our juniors, I just want the girls in Colac to have the same opportunities that I’ve had over the last few years.

“We don’t want girls having to travel to Geelong to play footy.

“I don’t want to be all doom and gloom, that this is where we’re at.”

The Imps will have training at Central Reserve at 5.30pm tonight, and Hassett encouraged anyone interested to come along.

“We’ve seen how successful the women’s program has been, so it’d be really disappointing to see all that work be lost,” Hassett said.

“So for anyone who’s been thinking about it, now’s the time to have a crack,” she said.

“Anyone who wants to come and try, we don’t want it to be the last chance they get.”

People can contact Hassett on 0437 995 676 for more information.

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