AFL Victoria is pleased to welcome NT Thunder into the expanded Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s competition for 2018.
The addition of NT Thunder finalises the team structure for next season, with 13 clubs to be part of VFL Women’s – up from 10 in 2017.
NT Thunder will play six home games in the Northern Territory, providing travel opportunities for a number of Victorian teams, as well as the Thunder players.
AFL Victoria CEO Steven Reaper said the approach from AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) to field a team in VFL Women’s provides great opportunities for both organisations.
“We welcome NT Thunder to the competition, in a move that highlights how well our VFL Women’s competition is regarded around Australia, entering just its third season,” Reaper said.
“The addition of an interstate team will provide a great development opportunity for six teams and their players to head to the Northern Territory, showcasing our competition to a new audience.
“A number of AFL clubs will utilise the chance to visit their Next Generation Academy region to build closer ties with the area and help support the development of women’s football in the Territory.
“For the women’s NT Thunder side, it will provide a state-league opportunity like the men in the NEAFL, with VFL Women’s to now play a role in the NT women’s talented player pathway.”
AFLNT CEO Michael Solomon thanked AFL Victoria CEO Steven Reaper and his team for their support and willingness to expand the VFL Women’s competition.
“What thrills me about the addition of NT Thunder to the VFL Women’s competition is the professional environment in which our young, aspiring players will be exposed to,” Solomon said.
“Like the men’s NT Thunder outfit, they will be required to travel interstate, and will learn how to train and partake in active recovery to get the best out of themselves and for their teammates, which is a requirement for any player with their sights set on the AFLW.”
AFLNT High Performance Manager Wally Gallio said the new team in the VFL Women’s competition will provide a great opportunity for aspiring female footballers in the Territory.
“We are truly excited that our pathways for both male and female footballers are now in-line with state and national programs, giving all Territorians the opportunity to play at an elite level,” Gallio said.
“In alignment to our recent NT Thunder Academy restructure, this team will encompass the best female footballers from right across the Territory.
“The NT Thunder team will be made up of Adelaide Crows AFLW players – both NT and SA based – and members of the NT Thunder Senior Women’s Academy squad, which includes players from Darwin, Central Australia and remote regions such as Arnhem Land, Gove, Katherine and Tennant Creek.
“We will also have two spots available each week for NT Thunder Academy rising stars, featuring 17 and 18-year-old developing players.”
In welcoming NT Thunder, Reaper said the addition of new teams in 2018 will help further develop interest in VFL Women’s, with over 100 players from the competition to also feature in the upcoming AFL Women’s season.
“We want to provide a professional environment for our players and officials in the VFL Women’s competition, and our clubs are committed to providing this into the future,” Reaper said.
“108,000 viewers watched the Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s decider at Etihad Stadium on Channel 7 across Victoria in September, so we will look to further grow that interest and exposure in 2018, across not only Victoria, but also the Northern Territory as well.
“The addition of the new clubs to the competition creates more state-league opportunities for women across Victoria, with the aim of seeing more AFLW players drafted from the competition in coming years.”
The 2018 VFL Women’s season will start in May, with the full fixture to be released by mid-December.