By Abbie Major
Gridiron is set to muscle in on the WA women’s sporting competition with a full-contact league kick-starting in Perth.
The Gridiron West Women’s League gives local players an opportunity to experience the famous American sport.
League director Kellie Hopkins, who established the local competition after moving to WA from QLD, wanted to create a sporting body that will increase rivalry in the national competition.
“I found out that there was no gridiron league for women over here and when the opportunity came to start a league I jumped at it,” she said.
“I know that WA had a strong AFL women’s presence and I wanted to try and tap into this to grow the athlete base.”
It is not the first-time gridiron has been introduced to WA, but this competition is vastly different to the last.
Two years ago, a low-contact WA Ladies Gridiron League incorporating skimpy costumes was canned after one season due to the “sexual exploitation” of athletes.
The WA league now promotes the use of the authentic American gridiron kit and the women are required to wear shoulder pads, helmets and shin guards’ to protect their bodies in the full contact sport.
“After the end of the Ladies Gridiron League, there were many girls left without clubs in Perth and they wanted to give the full-kit, full-contact gridiron game a go,” Ms Hopkins said.
With the season now under way, Curtin Saints gridiron team head coach Gareth Weinbretch said that there was an overwhelming response from players and bystanders.
“A lot of players were surprised by how well they did and couldn’t wait until the next game, there also was nothing but positive reactions from onlookers,” Mr Weinbretch said.
Ms Hopkins believes that the next step for WA athletes is to enter the national Women’s Australian Gridiron League.
She encourages any women in the Perth area to give gridiron a go.
“Every team is always encouraging of new players. I would insist that any person that wants to give it a go should head down to their closest club and try. There is always a spot on the field for you,” she said.
For more information about the Gridiron West Women’s league visit their Facebook page.