AFL is not only the fastest growing women’s sport in Australia but perhaps through the generosity of Manly Bombers Football Club and the work of the “Football Ladies”, Fiona Morrison and Denise Ody, AFL next area of growth could well be Ethiopia.
According to Fiona and Denise the AFL talent scouts may well want to take a visit to peruse the local talent.
Fiona and Denise are lifelong friends who go on vacation each year together, both live locally on the Northern Beaches – this year was a trip to Africa (Ethiopia) on a photographic expedition.
Whilst planning and talking about the trip, they mentioned to Matthew Wilson a coach of a Manly Bombers football side they wanted to give something to the community while over there. Matt asked them if they would like him to try and get hold of some AFL footballs to take with them and they thought that would be great idea.
Matt together with Tony Flynn President of Manly Bombers, rounded up some spare balls as well as some Bombers shorts for the ladies to give away.
These photos here were taken at a small Elementary School the ladies passed on the side of the road between the Simien Mountains and Axum – The Chewber Primary School in the Amhara Regional State. When they stopped the bus outside the school they were mobbed by literally hundreds of students - it got a bit out of control so the teachers came out with whips to control the mob! The ladies ended up being ushered into a classroom to take the photos.
Denise gave them a quick explanation of how to kick and throw the ball. The children had only ever seen a round ball before so they were a little confused - but soon picked up the art of the drop punt!
At the end of the demonstration the school sang the National Anthem as a sign of appreciation! The ladies gave the school six balls and ten pairs of shorts. They also gave them a chalk board and chalk; flash cards to help them with counting and the alphabet; colouring-in books and coloured pencils; and loads of pens and notebooks.
In Axum (a slightly larger town close to the border with Eritrea) the ladies then handed out balls to kids at random. They became known as the “Football Ladies” and word has spread around town - so everywhere they are being asked for a football (normally the kids ask for a pen)! Fiona said “it’s been a lovely experience - so a big thank you to Matthew and the Manly Bombers!”
The Football Ladies work echo the continued growth in women involved in all facets of AFL. From female AFL umpires and key administration roles at the highest level down to participation by girls at local clubs.
Locally Manly Bombers are building on the standout success of their U18s and U14 girls’ teams and creating a third youth girls team, this time for U12 youth girls aged between 10-12 years.
Overall, female AFL participation increased 46% growth in 2015, with 23% further in 2016 and looks to have similar spectacular growth this year.
The Manly Bombers club offers football for 5 year olds to U18, both boys and girls. And is still recruiting for the upcoming 2017 season.
Contact Tony Flynn email@example.com 0400 851 298