Sydney AFL Drops The Ball On Women’s Sport In The Inner WestInner West Councillors have roundly criticised a decision by the NSW AFL to relegate one of Sydney’s most successful women’s teams from its Premier Division.

Members of multi-premiership winning Newtown Breakaways were devasted by the news that those in charge of women’s Aussie Rules in the city feel the club’s on-field performance next year might not be of a high enough standard to compete in top flight footy.

AFL Sydney is in the process of expanding the number of teams in the Premier Division from eight to 10, but has made it clear to the Newtown club that there is no place for them in the competition next year.

The footy organisation says relegation with allow the Breakaways to “rebuild its program … to ensure the club’s sustainability longer term”.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne says it a disgrace the way AFL Sydney have treated the Newtown Breakaways.

The Newtown Breakaways are a foundation team of the AFL Sydney and have been a torchbearer for women’s and girls’ sport in the Inner West.

“AFL Sydney have dropped the ball in this instance. It’s ridiculous to exclude an all-female club from this emerging competition.

“Council’s recent Recreation Needs Study identified the need to prioritise ways to increase the number of women and girls participating in sport. This move is a setback in achieving that goal.

“We will continue to work with the club and AFL Sydney to find a way for the Breakaways to return to the Premier Division as soon as possible,” he said.

Stanmore-Damun Ward Councillor Anna York said it was a real shame that the Breakaways are being penalised for their role and history as a foundation supporter of Women’s AFL and for their innovative community engagement.

“Relegating a flagship women’s team with real connections in the Inner West community is a massive step backwards for AFL Sydney and for women’s and girls’ sport in the Inner West.

“We are committed to turning around the historic imbalance of women’s and girls’ access to quality sporting grounds and infrastructure. We are serious about this. That’s why we are working with the Breakaways and Council staff on a plan to host the Breakaways at Henson Park in 2020 – regardless of what division they are playing in,” she said.

“Hosting the Breakaways at Henson Park will send an important signal to the Breakaways, to all women and girls playing sport in the Inner West – and to AFL Sydney – that our community actively supports women’s Aussie Rules and women’s sports, and we will do what we need to do to support even more women joining our local teams. We hope AFL Sydney will join us in this commitment.”