IF you need proof of the growing interest in Australian Football on the South Coast, you need look no further than the female participation numbers.
Since the introduction of the AFL South Coast women's competition in 2018, the total number of overall participants involved in the sport has grown from 2677 to 3944 - a jump of 47 per cent.
Similarly, the junior numbers have grown - with four under 12s and four under 15s girls teams playing in the Shoalhaven in 2020.
One of those teams in the latter competition is Lyn Robinson's Bomaderry Tigers, who she's been coaching for three seasons.
"Numbers are growing of female players across all grades, especially in the under 15s age group," Robinson, who also coached the Illawarra Academy of Sports' AFL scholarship program in 2018-19, said.
"I have 20 registered girls this year at the Tigers.
"The talent, passion and all-round enthusiasm for female football continues to grow and gain momentum."
This growth hasn't gone unnoticed, with St George awarding the Artie Smith Oval-based club a $3,000 grant as part of their 2020 footy program, which has seen $200,000 donated to 50 grassroots clubs this season.
"This generous donation, which started from Lisa O'Neil's nomination, will buy a full kit for our under 17 girls side, which we are currently establishing for 2021," Robinson, who also coached the inaugural Shoalhaven under 15s representative side in 2019, said.
"With a number of our current under 15 girls transitioning into the older age group, this will allow them a solid pathway in the women's sport - before progressing into seniors.
"Footballers, male or female, need to see a pathway from junior to senior, and even just from one age group to the next."
As female football continues to increase in interest and talent, Robinson believes it has a bright future in the South Coast.
"Over the next couple of years, I envision strong five-team competitions in both the under 15s and 17s on the South Coast, as well as potentially the younger grades," Robinson said.
"Bomaderry will continue to throw its support behind female football.
"The continual increase in female football players from a younger age is a strong determiner of this actually happening, along with the support from the local clubs."