Opportunity, fun and enjoyment are at the heart of the objectives for the Central Zone Girls Only After School League run by Auckland Football at Bill McKinlay Park.
It is the second edition of the year seven and eight Girls Only League, with the number of participating teams increasing from nine to thirteen from six different schools for 2017.
Auckland Football Development Officer Gemma Lewis is in charge of the running of the league and says this year is going well as the teams compete for the Barbara Cox Trophy for the first time.
“The league this year is going well,” Lewis said.
“The teams are currently playing in a round robin where they all get to play each other.
“Once all the teams have played each other, we will then split the league into the top six who will play for the Barbara Cox championship trophy and the bottom six who will play each other for the Barbara Cox Plate.
“This gives all the teams more opportunity to be successful and have an enjoyable experience playing football.
Kate Southee – Sports Manager at Baradene College, one of the schools taking part – says it is great to have a competition outside of school hours and more females getting involved.
“The competition is fair and it is really good to play other girls the same age in a league that doesn’t run through school time.
“We’re seeing more girls playing each year which is great; we have girls that have never played before playing in this league along with girls that currently play club football to a high level.”
While opportunity, fun and enjoyment are key objectives, the long term goal is improving the quality of football in the league.
“I helped to align the original league run solely by a few schools to meet the needs of the Whole of Football Plan, with the girls all playing 9v9,” Lewis said.
“We also provide qualified referees to help with the girls understanding of the game and the rules of the game.
“And, with the help of Nicola Demaine from St Mary’s College we recently ran a Youth level 1 coaching course for the coaches involved.
“We are hoping this opportunity along with the regular opportunity for the girls to play will help improve the quality of football throughout the league.”