After the inaugural season of the AFLW, young girls finally have a pathway to professional level AFL but for the past years the Kirby Bentley Cup has been introducing our young girls to game and unearthing future stars.
By
Craig Quartermaine

Source:
The Point
6 Apr 2017 - 9:36 AM  UPDATED 6 Apr 2017 - 9:36 AM

The Kirby Bentley Cup is for girls aged between 13 to 15 years old. Teams with players from across the state all converged on Lightning Park in Perth for a carnival with adjusted rules for girls who have played the game and those were just learning it.

Although the aim is to introduce girls to the game and to build confidence and those who have never played before, there are always some standout talents with big futures ahead of them.

According to talent scout and future AFL prospect Courtney Ugle the next crop of superstars are just around the corner.

“Seeing the talent today gives me Goosebumps," she told The Point.

"I’m scared for my position with the talent they are putting on today."

Ms Ugle was one of many interested onlookers supporting the girls during the cup games.

The AFLW has been a monstrous success with eight teams and has captured the imagination of young girls across the country.

Participation grew by 20 per cent, with almost 1000 clubs around the county. Fremantle had a disappointing season but had the largest contingent of Indigenous stars including Kirby Bentley coming back from her second knee reconstruction to become Vice Captain of Fremantle.

A journey Bentley herself has called an emotional “roller coaster to rebuild the confidence”. She suffered complications from a LARS knee reconstruction that uses synthetic material to replace the anterior cruciate ligament, but Kirby has bounced back to star in the first AFLW season .

After being one of the premier players in the country and trailblazers for women’s AFL the Kirby Bentley Cup has been run in Perth for the last three years with players from across WA playing in a carnival competition and meeting their hero’s; the impact on the children is obvious and long lasting, but Kirby stays humble as always about her influence, saying: "My name is attached to it, but it’s not about me, it’s about our future not just our young Indigenous girls but female football.” 

The East Perth Royals took out this year’s Kirby Bentley Cup after a convincing run through the carnival, and while the girls on the Royals team will be remembered as the winners of this year’s cup, dozens of girls who participated in the Carnival now have a future in the game thanks to players who paved the way like Kirby Bentley.