Nagambie Lakers Football Club to form women’s team for 2023 season after locals band together

Rylee Alderton was not sure what response she would get when she put a post on the Nagambie Lakers Football Club Facebook page asking if anyone was interested in forming a women’s team.

“Within the first four hours I had 20 players,” she said. 

“Twenty-four hours in, I had 33 players that are very, very keen and about six that are wanting to have a go. It was fantastic.”

Although the response was much more immediate and effusive than she was anticipating, Ms Alderton had known there might be some appetite for it in the Goulburn Valley town.

With no women’s team in Nagambie, many local women were travelling up to an hour away, to Bendigo and Shepparton, twice a week just so they could play.

Ms Alderton had played for the Shepparton Bears herself in 2019.

Rylee Alderton was travelling to other places to play football, but it became too difficult to juggle.(Supplied)

“Then COVID hit and obviously the seasons got put to a halt. And then the following season I fell pregnant with my third child. Not having anything close by actually made it quite hard,” she said.

With so much enthusiasm in the community, Ms Alderton is hoping for a 2023 debut in the Northern Country Women’s League.

Players plan to meet fortnightly throughout the year, to get to know each other, and get prepared before preseason starts in November.

“There’s about seven ladies that have never actually played football before, which is fantastic, they’re going to learn the game and hopefully really enjoy it,” she said.

“Then the closer it gets we’ll catch up more frequently, but it’s just getting the girls excited and getting them confident.”

A woman in a purple and yellow football uniform leaps up to mark the ball
Nathalia Football Club were the 2021 premiers in the Northern Country Women’s League.(Supplied: NCWL)

Northern Country Women’s League Operations Manager Julian Perta said he was thrilled to see such a strong response from Nagambie.

“To have a location where there is [already] quite a thriving football community is fantastic, especially so those players don’t have to travel to Shepparton or another place to play,” he said.

Mr Perta said after the many disruptions of the past few years, the league just wants to get as many enthusiastic people as possible onto the field.

“We’re still in a rebuilding stage at the moment, and we’re looking to grow the competition in years to come,” he said.

For Rylee Alderton, the focus is on opening up opportunities for as many women and girls as possible.

She said there had been a lot of enthusiasm from girls who wanted to start their football journeys, but also from slightly older groups of women.

“I’ve got three ladies who are in their forties, and they’ve asked if that’s too old,” she said.

“I said, ‘Absolutely not’.

Women in gold and maroon football uniforms jog off the field
Many women in Nagambie are travelling to play with other teams, including the Shepparton Bears. (Supplied: NCWL )

“There is still that stigma that women don’t play football, and everyone’s trying to break through that. But by having the support of so many people, I think it’s going in the right direction.”

She was also excited to be able to represent her own community, and said that other women who had been playing football for different towns felt the same.

“They said: ‘Oh, I would love to come home’,” Ms Alderton said.

Reference-www.abc.net.au

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