Development and diversity in football

Department of Defence

After not competing in the 2022 ADF Australian Rules competition due to a lack of numbers, the Navy women’s AFL side has come leaps and bounds.

A concerted effort and commitment by the Navy Football committee has ensured Navy has developed a sustainable and professional women’s program, but also a competitive one.

Key to that development was the acquisition of Lieutenant Commander Elisabeth Quinn to head-up the program, bringing her experience as not only a high-level Australian Rules coach, but also as the current culture and leadership coach with the Richmond AFLW team.

Lieutenant Commander Quinn said it was incredible to see how far the Navy team had come.

“In 2022, Navy was unable to field a women’s team and now we have a full squad of skilled women who are able to be competitive against the other two services,” she said.

“We look forward to the 2025 carnival, when we get to take another step towards our goal of winning our third National Championship.”

A key factor in developing the women’s squad was investment into grassroots women’s programs.

The HMAS Cerberus Women’s Football team has tasted success in recent years, winning the South Eastern Women’s League grand final in 2022 before losing in a semi-final by a goal in 2023.

Following Cerberus’ success, the HMAS Stirling Football Club was established in 2023 by a group of Navy women eager to play football in Perth.

Stirling’s first year exceeded expectations, as they reached the grand final of the Peel Football League and finished as runners-up.

This ground-up development of Navy women in football has shown marked results within the Navy program, with year-on-year improvement and continual competitive showings at recent ADF carnivals.

Navy Football is also committed to increasing development and participation of Indigenous sailors and communities within Navy Football, thanks in part to aid provided from corporate sponsors.

Petty Officer Jarryd Boyd, Navy Football operations manager and Biripi man, has been involved in Navy Football for more than nine years and said he was always thankful for the opportunity to represent Navy in a sport he loved.

In 2023, Petty Officer Boyd was approached to produce Navy Football’s first Indigenous jumper to be worn at the ADF National AFL Carnival in Melbourne.

“It was an incredible honour to work with one of our valued partners in Lendlease to design and produce an Indigenous jumper for the teams to wear,” Petty Officer Boyd said.

“Seeing the jumper out on the field and having the opportunity to tell our story was an incredibly proud moment and I am humbled by the opportunity.”

Navy Football treasurer Commander Wayne McColl said the invaluable support of companies like Mitre Australia and Lendlease boosts the development and promotion of the Indigenous, women’s and grassroots programs, while providing a valuable outlet for Navy members to develop leadership and social mastery skills.

“Aussie Rules is Australia’s game and the chance to play for Navy at the national level is an excellent opportunity for our people,” Commander McColl said.

“Through the ongoing development of our programs, we have seen that our members return to their parent units as not only better footballers, but also better sailors and officers.”

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