From one lone girl Bomber to two whole teams (and counting)
SISTERS Ayla and Lily Calnan can't wait for the 2020 Aussie Rules season to start.
The pair, who have been playing for the Ballina Bombers AFL junior competition for a year, are part of a group of girls who have joined the club and dramatically boosted female numbers.
Ayla, 12, plays in the U13s and Lily, 10, plays in the U10s, and both are passionate about wearing the black and red.
Ayla previously played touch football and said she preferred the greater freedom AFL allows players on the ground.
"I love playing Aussie Rules with my mates," she said.
"It's really good way to make friends and be active.
"I also do karate through the week and play footy on weekend."
Her youngster sister is equally adamant about the joys of punting a Sherrin to her friends.
"I can kick with either foot," Lily said.
"Aussie Rules is fun. I like making new friends, being active and playing in the team."
Ballina Bombers Junior AFL president, Tony Bazzana, said the growth in the number of female footy players had been fantastic for the club and the game.
"Two years ago the only girl was my daughter Ava in the U6s and now we have girls U10s and U13s teams," he said.
"Last year we promoted girls footy through the local schools and we recruited 18 girls and soon we had more and had two teams.
"Now this year we want to get more teams if we can."
Bazzana said in 2019 the club had 115 children registered, "which is almost double what we had two years ago".
"We are now fully affliated with AFL south-east Queensland," he said.
"So we are included in zones with the southern Queensland teams which gives our youngsters more exposure."
Bazzana said the club catered for young players who simply want to have fun with their friends, through to those who wanted to challenge themselves and improve their skills.
"With the Suns academy opportunity for our girls and boys playing in the U12s and U13s, it is an exciting time for junior AFL," he said.
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