Young gun shines amid calls to boost Women’s League pathways

As the Statewide Super Women’s SANFLW regular season winds down, players and coaching staff are blowing the whistle on the need for talented young development squad players to be lifted to League level.


Ball used by the Western Region Football League. Photo: Kristen Alebakis

While many rookies pulled on SANFLW League guernseys this season, there are calls for many more to join League teams to boost skill levels and build player numbers enough to ensure the sport continues to flourish.

SANFLW West Adelaide Football Club Head Coach, Mark Moody, is one of the professionals that believes in the development of young players. Although West Adelaide failed to win a game, he says the season uncovered some amazing talent.

“SANFLW clubs who don’t challenge their young players will see their football programs suffer and players and teams left behind,” Moody says.

“Being able to give our young players the taste of league footy this season was very pleasing and as a result we will see several young girls come through next season and play regular League footy.”

West Adelaide currently has 12 players under the age of 18 playing in the 22-player League line up. One of his shinning lights from the recent season was 15-year-old Emma Kilpatrick.

Emma is one of the youngest SANFLW players to ever play women’s state level Australian Rules Football and is a rising star having gathered 89 total disposals through the 2022 season.

The young schoolgirl grew up playing Australian Rules in the back yard with her many brothers until her dream to play football became a reality when the Henley Sharks Football Club launched their all-girls team.

“This year was my first year in the SANFL and it was a really fun experience,” Emma says.

“Being just 15 and playing against girls who are 18 years and older is hard for me, but I just run on the field and have a go.”

“I would like to play AFLW for Port Adelaide Football club in the future if I do get drafted, but if I don’t by them, I would like to be drafted by either Carlton or North Melbourne.”

“We need to continue to see young girls come through next season and work hard at improving their skills playing League football,” Moody says.

“More SANFLW clubs should take on the opportunity of bringing girls up from low development squads that have the ability to play in the SANFL because if they don’t, they will be left behind and their programs will suffer.”

Moody says Emma has enormous potential to play AFLW because she has an elite leg and reads the play well but will need to continue to improve her fitness and ensure she puts in the hard work playing regularly in the SANFLW.

“As a young rookie Emma has achieved so much in such a short period of time with hopefully more and more to come but it will be essential for us to continue to give our young players the taste of League footy they and the club need them to have.”