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The 2023 Arnell Cup: Celebrating Women’s Community Football





Saturday 20 May, the 2023 Arnell Cup was contested by the two northern suburbs Over 35 Women’s clubs- Northside and Darebin. The combination of the Preston home match, and a whole of club Pride Weekend, brought plenty of friends and family down to celebrate the day. Darebin fielded a strong team with several players who had played senior football with the club, and ran out 2023 Arnell Cup winners.

Presenting the Cup to the Falcons, Brenda “Junior” Arnell wore both her Northside uniform, and Lauren’s Darebin scarf, reflecting the family ties to both clubs. Junior also brought a patch of Queensland sunshine with her for the match, which was most appreciated! More about the Cup here:

Darebin team co-ordinator Fi Munn, and Northside Captain “H” Jenkins spoke about the impact of Junior on the Over 35’s Women’s Competition. Junior’s accomplishments at training and on game day inspired not only her team mates, but the wider competition. To see women prepared to put themselves out there, and to learn how to play football for the first time as an older athlete, was so encouraging. It created a happy, welcoming space for others to join in and be part of that bigger movement to introduce over 35’s football for women.

Current Head Coach for Essendon AFLW, Natalie Wood spoke about the impacts of Lauren’s contributions but also noted that it was exciting to see events like this in the Over 35’s calendar. She said it was just as important for the development of the women’s game to see community participation at all levels; just as necessary for women’s footy as advancements continue to be happening at the elite level. Northside Player of the Match was Marie “Motz” Napoli, for her speed and attack on the ball, creative in attack, and holding strong in defence.

Darebin Player of the Match was Natalie Wood, for some beautiful skills on display, as well as strong running all day from contest to contest.  It is notable that both players are experienced coaches, with the expertise to bring in the newer players around them with their team work and great read on the game.  The AFL Masters Vic Metro Over 35’s Women’s Competition in its 5th year is an amazing opportunity for all women who have never played football to finally have a go.