Women’s AFL: West Coast withdraw from Perth A-Grade competition

A player shortage has forced a Perth Football League side to withdraw from the A-Grade women’s league one round into the season, writes ELIZA REILLY.

Perth Football League side West Coast has been forced to withdraw from the A-Grade women’s league one round into the season.

Opposition clubs were informed on Tuesday morning that the City Beach-based outfit had officially pulled out of the competition, the highest level of women’s football on offer below the WAFLW in Western Australia.

West Coast was due to play North Beach in round one on Saturday, April 15. But the Tigers were forced to forfeit that clash at late notice after failing to pull together enough players to field a team.

It’s understood the West Coast has been struggling for numbers at training. But the club remained confident of fielding a side given the anticipated arrival of unselected WAFLW players.

Claremont defender Claire Ortlepp was set to coach West Coast, paving the way for a partnership between the WAFLW and PFL club after the state league cut its reserves competition this year. The decision to remove the second-tier WAFLW league meant any players who aren’t selected are permitted to drop down to the PFL and maintain match fitness.

But it still wasn’t enough to save the Tigers from extinction in 2023. After forfeiting in round one, a decision was reached early this week to officially withdraw West Coast from the competition.

West Coast declined to comment when contacted by CODE Sports, citing its desire to focus on the welfare of its players. While the Perth Football League were unable to be reached for comment before the time of publishing.

It’s a dramatic fall from grace for West Coast who just two years ago boasted two teams and won the PFL C4 women’s premiership with its reserves outfit. The club’s senior side also played finals in 2021 but West Coast won just five games last year while its reserves side won one.

It is understood the addition of new women’s club Scarborough and B-Grade premiers Wembley adding a second side this year hasn’t helped West Coast retain players.

The collapse of West Coast also creates a fixture headache for the competition.

Scheduled games against West Coast are set to be marked as a forfeit, with a 45-1 scoreline recorded. But of the nine remaining A-Grade clubs, some play West Coast twice and some only once, creating a situation where some clubs will automatically be gifted two wins and a healthy percentage boost while other clubs only benefit once from West Coast’s withdrawal.

Eliza Reilly

Eliza Reilly is a Perth-based sportswriter for CODE specialising in AFL, AFLW and netball. Born and raised in Perth, Eliza started her career as a sports cadet at the Gold Coast Bulletin, progressing to deputy sports editor. In 2020, she returned home to join The West Australian where she got the chance to cover an AFL grand final in her home state. Eliza has also been recognised for her journalism, including winning a Clarion Award and multiple WA Football Media Guild awards including the Tracey Lewis Emerging Talent Award in her first year at The West.

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