THE 2019/20 Limestone Coast Women’s Football League season kicks off tonight, with two venues to watch the action across the South East.
Three games will take place at Vansittart Park, while two more will be played at Naracoorte.
The league has lost two of last season’s teams, but gains another, with Kongorong on board, while the combined West Gambier/Port MacDonnell team and East Gambier are no longer competing.
SANFL regional development coordinator Ian Perryman said the new format should suit the league better at this stage.
“We have 10 teams this year which is probably going to be a better fit,” he said.
“At the end of the day you don’t want odd numbers of teams or you end up with a bye.
“Because the season is short you don’t want teams having byes, so this will create a situation where the girls play each week.”
With the two sides dropping out, Perryman said the remaining teams, plus Kongorong, should be stronger, with several players dispersing across other clubs.
“Some of the girls have gone to Kongorong, some have gone to South Gambier and some have gone to North Gambier,” he said.
“North Gambier barely had numbers last year, but they are up to 30-odd players this year.
“I think the same number of girls will play, but distributed between the 10 teams.”
Much of this season’s format came from the former experience of the league, plus a survey sent out to the clubs and players.
Perryman said the league had done what it could to accommodate those desires.
“The girls are probably not like the blokes where they will make a career out of it,” he said.
“Even in regional areas the men will play for 10 years or more, where the girls just enjoy the game.
“All teams have said they want to play each other once, which wasn’t possible last year.
“They also wanted two weeks of finals.
“For us to provide that, we are playing four games before Christmas, then five games after Christmas, with two weeks of finals.”
The finals format will see the top side play the fourth side, the second side play the third and the winners advance to the grand final.
In previous years the top two sides at the end of the minor rounds played off for the premiership honours.
As it sits the involvement with women in the region has continued to grow, despite the loss of two sides.
Perryman said that fact was evident with 60 Under 16s registered for come and try days at Mount Gambier and Naracoorte.
“I think we will end up with about 350 girls, which has gone up each year,” he said.
“For a regional competition it is not too bad.
“We are trying to provide a facility for girls to play football outside of their netball games.
“They don’t want to combine football and netball during the winter, so all you can do is provide them with games in the summer period.
“With the season split up before and after Christmas, it will allow the girls to do what they said they wanted to do at the end of last year.”
Games kick off tonight at Vansittart Park from 6pm, with South Gambier up against Casterton, followed by Millicent v Kongorong at 7.15pm.
North Gambier v Glencoe will round out the Mount Gambier games at 8.30pm.
Up at Naracoorte Penola will face Kalangadoo at 6.30pm, followed by Mundulla v Kybybolite at 7.45pm.