Young female football players are angry that they are barred from playing in junior competitions in WA when they reach Year 12, unlike their male counterparts.
Players at one Perth junior football club have been told they will have to make do with just training with their club or join the women’s amateur competition.
But the 16-year-old girls who spoke to The West Australian said they feared they would get hurt playing against adults and believed they were victims of age and gender discrimination.
Kate O’Connor said it was unfair considering the boys’ junior competition went to Year 12. “It’s discriminatory,” she said. “We’re still 16 and we can’t play with other 16-year-olds.”
Kate and her friends Harper-Leigh Fleay, Ella Kemp and Claire Freisner, who are members of Willetton Junior Football Club, said they did not want to play with adults in the amateur competition.
“I’m really tiny, just over 5ft,” Ella said. “I would get destroyed. I have no interest to play with the amateurs.”
The girls are among eight Year 12 players at the club who registered again for this season believing they could play in the Year 9 to 11 junior girls’ competition.
Willetton JFC junior girls’ coach Steve Burgess said the girls were not ready to play with adults and the age groups should be altered to include Year 12 players.
“If they don’t play this year, they will find other interests,” he said. “We are still focusing on males playing football and are out of touch with females.”
Mr Burgess said the number of girls registering at Willetton JFC had more than doubled in the past four years.
It is understood the WA Football Commission looked at including Year 12s in junior competitions this year but it was not possible because of a lack of numbers.
WAFC youth, community and game development manager Troy Kirkham said it was important junior and youth football competitions were put into appropriate age groups for safety and fairness.
West Coast Eagles female player development manager Jan Cooper said if player numbers were an issue, a competition with smaller team sizes could be set up.