Uni women’s football team stars at the MCG

[ UniNews Vol. 13, No. 8  17 - 31 May 2004 ]

By Paul Richiardi

Dreams came true for the Melbourne University Women’s Football Club team at the MCG on Mother’s Day when it met, and defeated, rival top team St Albans in a history-making first – playing the ‘curtain-raiser’ for an AFL match on the game’s most iconic oval.

The win, 11-11 (77) to 7-8 (50) took the University team to the top of the Victorian Women’s Football League Division One ladder, displacing St Albans. When they took the field both teams were undefeated and separated only on percentage.

Melbourne began the contest knowing it had won its past five encounters with St Albans but was tested early when St Albans took the lead in the second quarter and at half-time led by a goal.

Strong teamwork and an apparent edge in fitness, however, saw the University team pull ahead in the second half of the game to win convincingly.

Starring with eight goals was full forward/half forward flanker Elizabeth Skinner. Singles went to full forward Dale Robinson, winger Natalie Wood, and centre half forward Emma Phillips.

Best players for the University were Elizabeth Skinner, Lucy Puls (ruck), Chyloe Kurdas (half forward flank and midfield), Clare Woodhouse (back pocket), Alison Trethowan (fullback), Sarah Hammond (midfield), and Natalie Wood (wing).

Chyloe Kurdas, who combines her role as a player with that of MUWFC Secretary, says Sunday’s opportunity to play at the MCG followed a VWFL approach to the AFL last year.

“The VWFL was keen to play a real game as a curtain raiser, rather than an exhibition match. It was thought a grand final rematch would be the best way to represent women’s football.

“MUWFC has won the VWFL’s Division One Premiership twice – 2002 and 2003 – against St Albans on both occasions. The Mother’s Day match was our first meeting with St Albans this season.

“Looking at Sunday’s success, we hope the AFL will be keen to adopt the women’s curtain raiser as an annual event,” she says.

Chyloe reports wide favorable response to the game from players, football supporters, club officials and also from the media.

“I think a lot of people took notice and perhaps reconsidered their ideas about women playing football. High profile AFL figures commented very positively on the game and our ability and athleticism.

“A few of our players spoke to various media outlets and for the first time were asked serious questions about football rather than the focus being on the ‘novelty’ of women playing football.”

Chyloe sees MUWFC having a successful 2004 season with an impressive depth of ability to draw on in the three VWFL divisions in which it fields teams. “Our seconds won the Division Two Premiership in 2003, making us the first club in the competition to win two premierships in two divisions in one year. And we also field a team in the Third Division, making us Australia’s biggest women’s football club – the only one with three teams,” she says.

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