Women to strutt their stuff in AFL derby

Western derby wins have been rare for West Coast in recent seasons, but double bragging rights will be up for grabs on Saturday at Domain Stadium.

The Eagles have lost six of the past seven derbies to Fremantle, but they’ll start as warm favourites in western derby XLIII.

And fans will get treated to a spectacle in the curtain raiser when West Coast take on Fremantle in one of 10 AFL-sanctioned women’s games scheduled for this season.

A national women’s team will be launched next season, with eight teams set to participate.

West Coast defender Mitch Brown knows all about women’s sport, with his wife Shae Brown (nee Bolton) a member of the West Coast Fever netball squad.

Brown said an elite league for women’s football was long overdue.

“There’s not many chances the Eagles get to beat the Dockers twice on the same day, so it’s fantastic,” Brown said of the upcoming match.

“We go to schools and talk to young kids all the time, and one of the questions you ask is ‘Who wants to play AFL?’

“The boys put their hand up and say, ‘We want to play for the Eagles’.

“The girls put their hand up, but then go, ‘Oh, but we’re not allowed to play’. And you don’t know what to say.

“What we will have the opportunity to do now is to answer those girls to say they can play AFL football for the West Coast Eagles.”

Kara Donnellan, who will captain West Coast’s women’s team on Saturday, said fans will be pleasantly surprised at the talent on offer.

Donnellan, nicknamed Juddy for her star performances on the field, has already undergone knee and shoulder reconstructions during her career.

She almost gave up the game a few years ago as the injuries piled up, but her move to WA rekindled her love of the sport.

Donnellan said when the women’s league is up and running next season, the players deserved to be paid for their participation.

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