AFL Victoria is pleased to announce that the City of Shepparton will host the 2013 AFL Youth Girls National Championships.
Shepparton’s premier ground, Deakin Reserve will play host to the annual national competition for females aged between 13 and 18 years. Six Youth Girls State Representative teams from across the country will battle for the national title between May 6 and 10 next year.
AFL Victoria’s General Manager Grant Williams revealed that there was significant interest from a number of Victorian locations to host the 2013 event.
"The quality of proposals provided during the expression of interest stage was outstanding and demonstrated the passion that exists for community sport in those Victorian areas.
"There will be a large number of players, support staff, volunteers and families that congregate in Shepparton for this competition which will contribute to the local economy," said Williams.
The decision to hold the AFL Youth Girls National Championships in regional Victoria was made, in part, as a result of the significant increase in participation in female football that has taken place in recent years in country Victoria.
"The number of females participating in Victorian football has risen to almost 11,000 individuals in 2012, which has been helped by the increase in Youth Girls footballers involved in regional areas," said Williams.
"Since 2009, Youth Girls participation has risen 177% and will continue to grow even further with competitions and teams to be based in Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Warrnambool, La Trobe Valley, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Wodonga and Echuca in 2013."
The State Coalition Government’s support of the 2013 AFL Youth Girls National Championships through their Significant Sporting Events Program has also helped AFL Victoria to hold the event in a regional location for the first time since the competition’s inception.
Minister for Sport and Recreation the Hon. Hugh Delahunty believes the event will be beneficial for Shepparton and the State as a whole.
"Events like the 2013 AFL Youth Girls National Championships contribute to the depth of Victoria’s sporting events calendar whilst helping to attract more visitors to our State’s regional areas," Delahunty said.
"The AFL Youth Girls Championships will help provide a stimulus for the local economy and a potential boost in female sports participation.”
Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor Jenny Houlihan is delighted that they have been selected to host the AFL Youth Girls National Championships.
Houlihan believes that the event will provide an opportunity to showcase what Greater Shepparton has to offer to the hundreds of participants and their supporters, from sporting and leisure facilities to hospitality and dining experiences.
"Council is proud that Shepparton is the first city outside of a capital city to host the event. Our region will benefit not just through what the visitors spend during their stay with us, but through the engagement of local suppliers for the event and in enhancing our reputation as a premier sports destination," said Houlihan.
"Greater Shepparton will be hosting our first ever AFL Youth Girls’ local competition next year and this is the best start for promoting Australian Rules as a viable sport for girls that we could ask."
Melbourne played host to the inaugural AFL Youth Girls National Championships in 2010. Since then, the Gold Coast and Adelaide have each hosted the Championships and AFL Victoria looks forward to welcoming the competition back to the State.
Victoria has won the last three Championships and is hoping to secure their fourth with a new Metro and Country structure in 2013 against other competing States including South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.
AFL Victoria recently announced a change to the U18 Youth Girls High Performance program to focus on Metro and Country, replacing the existing Victoria and AFL Victoria Development teams that have competed at the Championships since their inception in 2010.