HUNDREDS of students from across the region will descend on Blue Lake Sports Park for the Mount Gambier Crows Cup girls’ football Carnival this Thursday.
A total of 263 girls and 22 teams from primary schools throughout the South East will play for the maiden Crows Cup held in the Blue Lake City.
It is a modified nine-aside competition designed to introduce the game to as many people as possible in a fun and safe environment.
A highlight of the day will be the presence of Millicent’s two-time AFLW Adelaide Crows premiership player Sarah Allen.
Allen will be in attendance to help coach the youngsters and share her experiences from playing football in the South East to reaching the top level.
Another attraction on the day will be mascot Claude the Crow, who will look to impress with his dance moves and fun activities.
Adelaide Crows female football program officer Madison Hurley said this week’s carnival is designed to spread the game to as many girls as possible.
“The Crows Cup is aimed at participation and engagement,” Hurley said.
“It will bring an opportunity for girls to have a go at football and provide an exciting event in the local area.
“We are just trying to get girls involved in the sport and promote it as much as possible.”
Hurley said the game has exploded in the South East region.
The sport’s dramatic growth is highlighted by a remarkable 533pc increase of participation at the event since it was held in Naracoorte last year.
Hurley said the recent premiership success of the Adelaide Crows women’s team has been a major factor.
“We went down last year and just did one carnival at Naracoorte and had a few teams compete, but it has grown a lot since then,” she said.
“With the success of the Crows women’s team at the grand final, many girls are just excited to have a go at football.
“We are really excited and have received strong numbers.
“It should be a great couple of days.”
Hurley said the youngsters will love being around Allen who will hope to inspire the next generation of female football talent.
“Sarah will be walking around on the day, coaching teams and giving girls advice on their game plays,” she said.
“Because she is from that part of South Australia, I am sure the kids will be really excited to hear that one of their locals has progressed through the football pathway and become a Crows player and has gone all the way.
“She is so lovely and I am sure the girls will absolutely love having a kick with her.”
Hurley said the modified nine-aside rules are created to give everyone a go and the games will be played across two 10-minute halves.
“To promote everyone sharing the ball around, we have three forwards, midfielders and defenders and only the forwards can score,” she said.
“It is just a wrap around tackle so no one is taken to the ground just to make it nice and safe.
“It is a pretty packed day and many of the kids are exhausted by the end of it.”
Hurley said the program has gone from strength to strength since it began three years ago.
“It started in Adelaide when Chelsea Randall came on board and just did a couple of carnivals,” she said.
“It has developed from two carnivals in 2016 to over 30 this year, so it has grown a lot over the past few years.
“We are trying to get to every regional spot as well as the metro areas so no one misses out.”
The Crows Cup Carnival will stop in Naracoorte with 16 teams taking part on Wednesday before Mount Gambier’s maiden event the following day.
The action will kick off from 10am and finals start at 12.30pm.