The St Kilda Football Club has been granted a licence to compete in the AFL Women’s Competition in 2020.
CEO Matt Finnis said the announcement was a game-changer for St Kilda.
“For our members all over Australia and for the Bayside community, this is a landmark announcement that will have a profound impact on our club and football in the region,” Finnis said.
“For the first time in our club’s 145-year history, every young Saint can now dream of wearing the red and white and black.
“While there is a level of frustration that we are not able to join the competition earlier, having a clear date to work towards is an important step in making the dream of fielding a women’s team a reality.
— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) September 27, 2017
“The awarding of a licence acknowledges the work we have done to grow and develop women’s football in Bayside Melbourne.”
Finnis said the strength of women’s football in Bayside and the passion of St Kilda supporters would be the driving force behind establishing a St Kilda Women’s team in 2020.
“This season, the club surpassed a 42,000 members for the first time and we have been overwhelmed by the level of support our campaign to join AFLW has received from our fans and the Bayside community,” he said.
“One in four female players in Victoria currently live and play in Bayside Melbourne, making it arguably the single strongest region for women’s football in Australia.
“After falling short of our goal to be a foundation club of the new competition, we vowed to continue to develop the talent base in the Bayside region.
“We have relished the opportunity to host the southern AFL Victoria academy program, an exhibition match at Etihad Stadium and the Best of Bayside Masterclass series over the past 12 months.
“It is through these initiatives that we have determined beyond doubt that the Bayside talent base is ready to underpin a St Kilda AFLW team.
“The current redevelopment of St Kilda’s new training and administrative base at RSEA Park (Moorabbin Reserve) will be completed in 2018, becoming the home of the Saints, local community football leagues and the Sandringham Dragons.
“The return of elite level football through AFLW matches to our spiritual home will be a momentous occasion for our club.
“The facility will also play an important role in the continued growth of women’s football and complete an aspirational pathway in the region.
“In the coming weeks, we will confirm our involvement in the VFL Women’s 2018 season, which will provide the region’s best female footballers with an opportunity to fast-track their development.
“We will also work with the AFL to ensure a St Kilda AFLW team has access to the players developed through the club’s pathway programs to ensure we are a formidable force in 2020.”