After fighting to win a spot in the league, Hedland’s first Women’s Football Association is establishing itself firmly through its first season in the competition.
Two thirds of the way through the season, The Blazers have 56 registered players and increasing wins on the board.
“It’s the first year we’ve been properly competitive,” Club President Adie Hinkes said.
“Hedland is transient, so we’ll never have the full 56 at one time, but they’re great numbers.”
The new team, which trains at Kevin Scott Oval in South Hedland, is coached by Adrian Fahey and Troy Melville.
“Back when I took over as Club President, I knew there were a lot of girls in town that loved footy. They’d be coming down to watch the boys play each week and having a kick during the breaks and on the sidelines, but there was no clear-cut pathway or league for the girls to join, so I saw an opportunity and it went from there,” Adie said.
Neither a Port Hedland Rovers nor a South Hedland Swans team, the Blazers are affiliated with the Junior League Hedland Reds.
“I thought it would be fairer that way,” Adie said.
Starting out, the Blazers had to push hard to convince the North Pilbara Football League to allow their team into the league, especially as they weren’t entering under a men’s side.
“My committee and I had to fight them to get a spot in the League, but I don’t think they regret it,” Adie said.
A passionate Fremantle Dockers supporter, Adie, who has been in the town two and a half years, is also a Health and Phys Ed teacher at the High School.
“Being a local teacher, I’m in a good position to encourage the young recruits to sign up,” she said.
“Women’s footy was never really an option for me growing up, but I see how it’s making waves throughout the state and rest of the nation in recent years as it grows in popularity. I am excited to be part of giving the younger girls coming up an opportunity to really make the most of it. I’d love to see some of our Blazers playing in the AFLW one day,” she said.
“We started the season off pretty shaky and didn’t have our first win until Round 5 but we’re getting stronger every week.
“We’ve just versed a team that beat us by 51 points at the start of the season and we beat them by 35 this game. We’re starting to get consistent players now and getting to know each other’s strengths to play by.”
Adie said being the only Hedland team in an all-Pilbara league meant the Blazers were traveling for games every second week, but the many long bus trips offered good team-bonding opportunities for the players.
“Our footy jumpers have also just arrived,” she said. “They’re of the salt pile, which is the famous Hedland landmark between Port and South Hedland and their two men’s teams. Eldridge Edwards, a local Clontarf teacher I work with at the High School, designed them for us. There’s also some Indigenous artwork the frames the salt pile. The colours in the circle represent different nationalities coming together and being part of one cause and supporting anything that come their way.”
Adie said the Blazers had been surprised by the amount of local support their team had received, and that Hedland as a whole had been really on-board and accepting of the new team.
“We’d love to take home a premiership flag in our first season,” she said.
“I’d feel a little guilty beating Freo to it, but we want the flag. The Karratha Kats are our biggest hurdle. They beat us by 112 points back in Round Three, but only by a couple of goals in our last game. I know we are capable of knocking them off, we just need to keep play the way we’ve been going. We’ve got fitness, skill and determination on our side, I don’t see why we can’t win.”
“We just need a bit of luck to go our way, so we can play in the grand final. But I’ve got faith in my girls - they’re incredible,” she said.
You can contact The Blazers or find out more about the team by connecting with their public group Hedland Women’s Football Association (The Blazers) on Facebook.