Gympie Cats AFLW coach encouraged by rising squad numbers
AFLW: Gympie Cats women's coach Tony Kirsopp says encouraging player numbers this year will serve as a building block for future seasons as new statistics show a boost in popularity for the sport nationwide.
Firgures published by market research company Roy Morgan showed "over 550,000 Australian women now play one of the four main football codes” out of soccer, aussie rules, rugby league or rugby union.
The stats showed "the success of the AFLW in encouraging women and girls to play Australian Football is evident by the growth in female participation in Australian Football over the last year up by 21,000 to 176,000 women”.
Kirsopp, who coached the Cats through their final game of the 2019 AFLW season against Bay Power last Saturday night, said the impressive squad size to start the season had been dwindled by a heavy injury toll.
"We had 22 registered players paid up at the start of the season, which was encouraging,” Kirsopp said.
"For the past three years it's been a bit of a battle to get strong numbers at the start but we were up and running earlier this year.
"We were hammered by injuries this season, but that's footy and you've got to wear it. Footy's good fun, people like playing for fitness, making friends and enjoying each other's company, and we have a lot of mums and daughters playing together.
"As a coach you always want to be playing finals and pushing as far as you can, and we'll contuinue to aim for that next year.”
Kirsopp encouraged interested players to pull on the Cats jumper next season, citing a "short, sharp season” that wouldn't require long-term commitments.
The Cats finished fourth of six teams in the AFL Wide Bay women's competition this season with three wins and five losses.
The lost their final game 8.11 (59) to 0.2 (2) against Bay Power at Ray Warren Oval.