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Panthers take lead (Leader Newspaper – News Ltd)

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30 NOV 10 @ 12:13PM BY DANIEL PHAN

THERE is a new lot down at Raeburn Reserve.

Thanks to the determined efforts of the Pascoe Vale Football Club, coupled with Moreland City Council’s push for gender equality in sports participation, a junior girls’ football team has joined the Panthers ranks.

Newly appointed club president Faye Biedukiewicz admitted it took a strenuous effort assembling the team, which will compete in the AFL Victoria Girls’ Youth League from next season.

“Next year we will be entering a women’s team who will play in AFL Victoria’s women’s competition,” Biedukiewicz told Leader.

“We were initially under the pump to approach players and coaching staff for the team but now we’re really pleased about having the team up and away.

“For the football club it definitely sends the message that the time has come (for women’s sport to be more widely accepted).”

The creation of a Panthers girls’ team ensures the club meets the council’s Grounds Allocation policy whereby it will get access to the necessary training and playing facilities.

“We know from our point of view that it can help us with the council and we also want to be inclusive with everyone in the community,” Biedukiewicz said.

It also means gender-appropriate facilities must be built to accommodate the girls. “Now we just have to wait for the council to install new changerooms and toilet facilities to accommodate for the girls,” Biedukiewicz said.

Moreland City Council’s pressing for a greater balance between males and females in sports participation has been praised by senior sports lecturer Johanna Adriaanse of the University of Technology Sydney.

Adriaanse said a change in attitude towards women in sport can only be realised if sporting clubs subjected to stringent council policies.

“Traditionally sport is male dominated, and you have to take certain measures to provoke some change,” she said. “Naturally, change won’t occur so quickly.

“Clubs need to have a plan in place that is open to both genders and connects all the people in the community who pay council rates.”

According to Moreland councillor Stella Kariofyllidis, the response to the Grounds Allocation policy has so far been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s been very positive – the sporting clubs are doing the most they can (to embrace female participation at on-field and administrative level),” she said.

Pascoe Vale Football Club has indeed set a healthy example for other clubs.

An inherent football buff, Biedukiewicz said her gender would not define her ability to oversee the club’s operations as president.

“It’s time people realise that the passion for females is as much as men,” she said. “My job involves negotiating with the club for players and everything else.

“(And) hopefully I’ll become the first female president in the EDFL to bring home a premiership.”


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