Railways women in doubt of fielding a team with GNFLW season right around the corner

Fraser Williams & Anna CoxMidwest Times
Railways celebrate the inaugural GNWFL premiership in 2018. Arctic Moon Photography
Camera IconRailways celebrate the inaugural GNWFL premiership in 2018. Arctic Moon Photography Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

With the Great Northern Football League season right around the corner, Railways are in doubt of being able to field a women’s team because of low numbers.

The Blues’ women’s side won the league’s inaugural premiership in 2018, but they may not be able to compete at all this season.

Women’s coach Nathan Johansen said the team saw 17 departures because of work transfers and retirements during the off-season.

“It’s nothing in-house, it’s for reasons that can’t be helped — work transfers, pregnancies, other girls going down to Perth for football at that higher level,” he said.

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“At times you’re gonna get these lulls in numbers . . . you don’t want to be forfeiting games on a regular basis because you can’t field a side.”

While this season is in doubt, Johansen said Railways had a strong junior cohort coming through the ranks that would help the club in coming years.

“On the junior side of things down at Railways, we’re really stacked at the maximum age group,” he said.

“Next year, that’s going to be one of those seasons where you have a whole pile of juniors coming in . . . so that sort of stuff is really promising.”

Railways and Chapman Valley battle it out last year.
Camera IconRailways and Chapman Valley battle it out last year. Credit: Gemma O’Connor

GNFL president Carrissa Bellottie said while it had not been confirmed, it was in doubt whether the Railways women would have the numbers to compete.

“At this stage, we still haven’t got a definite answer around what’s happening with the team itself,” she said.

“They have given us notification that they don’t have the numbers for a team.

“At the moment we’re still kind of sitting in a grey area around that.”

The board will hold a meeting next week as they discuss options with the team to try to help them get on the field for the 2024 season.

“We as the GNFL are still working with Railways to see how we can possibly boost those numbers and still get a team for them,” Bellottie said.

“The GNFL board have a meeting next Tuesday in which we’ll discuss where to from here with the Railways ladies.”

Bellottie said there “has been talks” on the possibility of the side merging with another team, but nothing would be confirmed until the board met next week.

With the possibility of the remaining players being without a team, Brigades president Dean Pascoe said they were open to hosting the Railways girls for a year.

“We’re definitely able to fill a team. I’ve been chatting with Railways to help their situation,” he said.

“It’s more of a take the girls on that don’t have a team on the premise we’ll push really hard to get them back to Railways next season.

“It’s a shame because if it wasn’t for Railways, we wouldn’t have a women’s comp.”

The GNFL season begins on Saturday, April 27, with Railways scheduled to play Northampton in round one.

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