AFL rule prohibiting girls over 14 from mixed-gender competition outdated, Victorian mum says

Abby Weir’s love of football began when she was six, and she followed in her family’s footsteps of playing for their local football club, St Arnaud in north-west Victoria.

“It’s just her thing. It’s always been her thing,” her mother, Melissa Weir, said.

“She was very much into football before there was the AFLW [Australian Football League Women] and before there were girls’ competitions.”

But playing with the local team she grew up with came to an end when she turned 15 because the AFL prohibits girls over 14 from playing in mixed-gender competitions.

“We knew that this time could come,” Ms Weir said.

“But we were probably holding onto hope that by 2022 things would’ve changed with the AFL, and we’d be looking at a different scenario.”

Ms Weir said she approached their local team, their league and the AFL but had not been given a clear reason why Abby could not play.

She said some people had suggested the rule could be in place to prevent sexual harassment of girls by their male teammates, but she believed that view was outdated.

“She’s played with the top kids since forever, and the other players [on the team] are disappointed she can’t take the field with them.”

Abby now runs drinks for her local footy team.(Supplied)

Girls should be given choice, mum says

Ms Weir said the St Arnaud Football Club was supportive of Abby continuing to play, particularly at a time when the club was struggling for numbers.

“They’re playing kids younger than Abby in their under 17 competition and she’s running water where she could be a player on the field,” Ms Weir said.

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