Having established itself in 2011, the Bendigo Women’s Football Club (Thunder) has quickly established itself as a leader in the largest growing sport for female participation – AFLW football.
The Club is one of the very few that caters exclusively for women that seek to develop their Australian Rules football skills and play against Victorian teams within highly competitive leagues.
What began as a community engagement project encouraging women into sport has now seen the Thunder come full circle into a fully-fledged sporting club. The unprecedented media coverage that the Thunder has received has cemented its place firmly in the heart of the community as the regions’ one and only senior women’s football club.
With its roots firmly in community development, the Bendigo Women’s Football Club differs from other sporting clubs with our key focus being developing relationships that ensure ongoing pathway development for on field participation while also creating and developing off field opportunities.
The Bendigo Women’s Football Club has at its core the key elements of engagement, development and growth to provide opportunities for young women to participate in Australia’s fastest growing female sport – AFL football.
The Club’s brand name “ Thunder” has achieved wide community recognition, not only within regional Victoria but also throughout the metropolitan Melbourne football fraternity.
2017; was another watershed year for the Club. We had 2 x teams playing in separate leagues. Our first team were premiers in the NFLW competition and our new team (established in 2017) won the NCWL premiership.
Off field developments were also exciting for the Club with the signing of an Alliance Agreement with the Richmond Football Club that has as its core objective – the development of a pathway for central Victorian women to play in the AFLW.
The agreement certainly fits within the Bendigo Football Women’s Club mantra and will provide significant opportunities, not only for the playing group but also for supporters of the Club and the community in general.
2016; saw the team undefeated throughout the season only to be beaten in the grand final by Deer Park in the Victorian Women’s Football League – Premier Division
Nevertheless, there were many positives that developed during the season, with one of the most notable being that 6 of our players were recruited by AFLW Clubs Carlton, Melbourne and Collingwood and participated in the 1st year of AFLW footy.
Players, Emma Grant, Jess Kennedy and Isabelle Ayre also took out the top Victorian Women’s Football League awards and Head Coach Cherie O’Neill won the AFL Victoria Senior Women’s Coach of the Year award.
Outstanding outcomes that clearly confirms the Club’s player pathway strategy is working.
2015; saw the team finish 6th at the end of the season with Cranbourne Football Clun taking out the premiership in the Victorian Women’s Football – League Division 1
2014; was a tough year for the Club, finishing last in the Victorian Women’s Football League – Premier Division 2
2013; was again a successful year for the team with another Premiership in the Victorian Women’s Football League – North West Division 1
2012; was a watershed year for the Club with the team winnings its first premiership in the Victorian Women’s Football League – North West Conference.
2011; was the year the Club was established and the team made its debut into the Victorian Women’s Football League. What a year, with the team finishing in second place in the home and away competition.