Altona has put the foundations in place for its inaugural women’s team to hit the ground running in the Western Region Football League next season.
The Valkyries have the infrastructure needed to house their men’s, women’s and junior section, and have a thriving youth girls set up that will stand the club in good stead for years to come.
Above all, inaugural Valkyries coach Kerrie Clarke says the appetite for women’s football in Altona is there.
“It’s exciting to start up something new, but it’s also exciting to see the interest that’s out there as well,” she said.
“Because Altona has a very strong junior girls and youth girls, they needed a senior women’s team so they didn’t have to go off to other clubs.
“They’ll have brothers or dads or whoever playing there, so it’s good to keep them there so they don’t have to go off to another club.”
Altona went through significant pre-planning to prepare for its women’s team launch.
When the clubrooms were re-modelled, it was designed with a view to creating spaces for men’s and women’s teams.
“They’ve got it all set up, so there’s nothing that has to be established, it is there,” Clarke said.
“They knew the growth was going to happen as soon as the AFLW started.
“Therefore, at some stage there was going to be a senior side coming here, so they had to change the facilities because years ago they never had the facilities for males and females to use.”
Just as important for Altona was the establishment of its girls teams.
The Valkyries have teams in the under 14s, 16s and youth girls, so the pathway from the bottom to the top is now complete.
“It’s already established and that’s what they wanted to start first,” Clarke said. “The youth girls go up to 18.5 now, so they can go up to seniors.”
While the building blocks are in place for Altona, the recruiting for the senior women’s team goes on.
Clarke has already began discussions with some VFLW players to call Altona home when they are not selected by their clubs.
The Valkyries will also have a come and try day this Saturday at Civic Parade Oval from 10.30am to midday with a focus on new recruits from other clubs, code jumpers from other sports and even new players wanting to try out football.
Clarke is hopeful of a big turn out to the session.
“It’s already on Facebook and Instagram and word of mouth of course,” she said.
Clarke was vice captain of the VU Western Spurs last season.
She has played for the Western Bulldogs in the VFL Women’s.
While she might pull on the boots for a game here and there, Clarke said her priority would be coaching.
That is why she is so keen to get some experienced on-field leaders, such as her VFLW targets, to point the way.
“I know some of the girls have been selected for VFL sides need a community club, so there’s a couple that have said Altona will be theirs that are playing at Williamstown,” Clarke said.
“They can share their experience and know what it takes to get to that next level because it’s a completely different level.”