Belmont women ready to roar in 2024
THE Belmont Lions Sports Club will submit an application to AFL Barwon to field a senior women’s football side for the first time in the club’s 58-year history next year in 2024.
The Lions publicly announced its commitment to forming its senior women’s side today (Friday, November 10), after significant interest shown after the club opened expressions of interest.
Belmont co-vice president Lily Graham said more than 20 female footballers submitted expression of interest forms in less than 24 hours, cementing the club’s intention to commit a side next season.
“It’s an exciting progression for the club and I think it’s a natural progression as well,” Graham said.
“We have a number of girls coming through our junior program, but it’s always been a bit of a sore spot knowing that once they turn 14, they will need to go elsewhere.
“So to now have another step in the pathway for female football, is exciting for the Lions, and we’re already seeing girls announce their intentions to come back to where it all started.”
As Belmont is now structured, the club can cater to junior female footballers within its Auskick, Under 9, Under 10, and Under 12 programs.
Former Lion and familiar face around Winter Reserve, Yalanda Neal, credits a large part of her love for football to grandfather and Belmont Sports Club life member Trevor Edwards.
Neal played at Belmont as a junior, before moving over to St Joseph’s to continue her junior development.
She then suffered frustrating knee injuries, preventing her from consistently playing the game she loves over several years.
Neal has since been a driving force in getting Belmont’s inaugural side on the table ahead of the 2024 campaign.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Neal said.
“Players like Kaela Schlensog and I have had to venture off to different clubs and find our way in our junior years, but at the end of the day Belmont is home and we’ve always been around the club.
“Now we’ll have a way to be a part of the action and it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Family is a large part of Neal’s life, and her family has been around the Lions for generations.
“We all played for this club whether it be in football and netball, for me I got to watch my cousins play sport here and all my brother-boys play football here too, including my brother Tyson,” she said.
“I’m really grateful that this is becoming a reality, and it feels so special to once again wear the Belmont guernsey.”
AFL Barwon fielded 20 senior female sides over three separate divisions in 2023.
If AFL Barwon confirms Belmont for the 2024 season, the Lions would be the fifth Geelong & District Football Netball League association to join the competition.
The club will now look for a suitable coach to take over the side ahead of the pre-season.