Maryborough to field two women's teams next season
PRUE Bidois has watched Maryborough Bears' rise closer than most.
The Bears have quietly built its playing numbers in recent years, and in 2018 will make its much-anticipated return to the senior AFL Wide Bay competition.
But it's not the men's team's return to seniors that has Bidois excited.
Bidois's reason for joining the Bears was simple: her daughter Montanna wanted to play.
Late last year, the Bears' junior female ranks exploded. From nothing, to two girls keen to compete in a small under-16 competition, to up to 18 dedicated players by season's end.
"It was amazing, the best feeling in the world," Bidois, who helped drive the side's successful season said.
"They did so well.
"None of the girls had ever played football before.
"By the end of it they were marking the ball, kicking the ball, doing everything footballers are expected to do."
That swift growth in player numbers instilled Bidois's belief the men's team could be powered by the female success.
"Female football is the new thing, male footy has always been around for ages," she said.
"There will be more interest in ladies football, but the Bears comeback has been phenomenal."
Maryborough president Lee Flahavin said the club could field both U16s and opens women's teams, along with senior and reserve grade male teams.
AFL Wide Bay has worked on a four-team women's competition, most likely to be held during the preseason, for 2018.
Maryborough, Hervey Bay Bombers and Bay Power are all expected to field teams, with another to come from Bundaberg.