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COMMITTEE CONVENES FOR HISTORIC WOMEN’S TEAM

Members of the Old Paradians’ Association Amateur Football Club’s planning committee for the establishment of an inaugural women’s team in 2019 have gathered for the first time – amongst them two women with robust credentials.

Shelley Ware and Annie Surridge (pictured here) are part of the nine-person committee which met in the Frank Mount Social Room on July 16.

The committee includes Old Paradians’ Association Amateur Football Club President Mike Jolley and club representatives Graeme Clark, Peter Gilmartin and Gina Marrone; Parade/St. Damians Junior Football Club President Gerard Love and Auskick convenor Linda Tsatsimas; and Danielle Curcio, a prospective recruit for season one.

Shelley said that she was “really excited for the Old Paradians and I know the club is excited too with the possibility of women playing”.

“There’s more than 1800 boys out there at Parade and you can’t tell me they don’t have sisters and aunties and cousins that wouldn’t be interested in playing footy,” Shelley said.

“So get behind the club, which has long been supportive of men’s teams and is now ready to be supportive of women’s as well.”

A proud Yankanjatjara and Wirangu woman from Adelaide who currently lives in Melbourne, Shelley is a familiar face to those with an empathy for the great Indigenous game.

In recent years, Shelley has been prominent as a radio and television presenter on both local and national AFL news programs. As a member of NITV’s The Marngrook Footy Show team, she has forged a handsome reputation as one of the most respected and recognised female presenters of League football in this country.

Shelley also works part-time as an educator at Kew Primary School (where she coordinates a Literacy Intervention program) and teaches Grade 6.

Further, her husband Steve Fazekas is an Assistant to OPs Senior Coach Ryan Smith and their her son Taj commences at Parade College next year, so she’s eminently qualified to contribute her talents and expertise to the Old Paradians’ significant venture.

Then there are the historic links.

“My Nanna played for Whyalla in South Australia when the boys all went off to war, so women’s footy isn’t such a revelation to me,” Shelley said.

“Women have been playing footy for a really long time - the revelation is that the guys have just caught up with it. What I love is that everybody has embraced women’s footy since the AFL opened the doorways to girls who were once told that there wasn’t a place for them if they wanted to play footy.”

Though Shelley never chased the leather herself, a more fervent follower of Australian Rules you’d never find.

“I was a netballer and I was fast, but my body, structurally, wouldn’t have coped with Australian Rules and it was not for me - but I love watching the game and seeing players play it,” Shelley said.

“Women’s football is now financially supported and that will improve with time. It’s a journey the men have been on and now it’s our time.”

Annie, currently employed at the Carlton Football Club as its Support Engagement Officer after a previous stint with Essendon, believes she can assist with the marketing and promotion of the Old Paradians’ women’s team in various platforms, and can draw on her experiences at League level with matchday fan involvement.

“I’m really keen to help the Old Paradians get a women’s team up and running,” Annie said.

“Coming from a country town with a local football club element and a real sense of community, I was really keen to get involved with a community club to get a team happening. I’m pretty passionate about this, having come from Carlton which fielded a women’s team in the inaugural year of AFLW.”

Annie believed that future Old Paradian female footballers were quite literally at the Frank Mount Social Room’s doorstep.

As she said: “We hope to tap into the Parade base, which is huge, and the northern corridor, to get the message to all the girls and women in the area”.

“Everyone at the meeting on Monday night were all passionate and want this change to happen,” Annie said.

“A lot of awesome ideas came out and let’s hope we can pull it all together.

“This is the future of football and it’s exciting.”

Old Paradians’ Association Football Club President Mike Jolley encouraged anyone connected with the Old Paradians network or the Parade College community – whether prospective players or parents who might want to assist administratively - to be part of the phenomenon that is women’s football.

“In developing our Strategic Management Plan for the next three years the Old Paradians’ Association Amateur Football Club has identified that we need to involve more women, and that the implementation of women’s football at our club is one aspect of increasing that involvement,” Mike said.

“The VAFA now boasts the biggest women’s competition in Australia and is the competition in which we will hopefully be entering a team.”

Further information about the Old Paradians' women's team and details of a planning and information day scheduled for Sunday, August 19, will shortly be released on the Old Paradians' Association Amateur Football Club website – www.oldparadiansafc.com/opw19

If you would like to express an interest in playing or supporting this new team please complete a brief questionnaire at the following site: www.surveymonkey.com/r/LBJ8RV5

If you would like to talk to one of the committee members regarding any of the information outlined in this article please contact Graeme Clark on 0417 392 482 or via email gclark31@hotmail.com