Diaphanous lights, picturesque bay views, and a ground right in the heart of the community; SkyBus Stadium has all the hallmarks to host AFL Women’s matches.
After Richmond outclassed St Kilda there in Round 1 of the AFL Women’s season, a fixture change has seen the Saints’ Round 4 clash against West Coast taken away from Sandringham and returned to Frankston.
Frankston Football Club CEO Adrian Lloyd was ecstatic with the news when speaking to The Inner Sanctum, affirming strongly that despite only a few days to prepare, Frankston Park would be ready to shine under the Friday night lights again.
“We got a text midday on Sunday from St Kilda to say that it was a game that was happening on Thursday,” Lloyd explained.
“So although we model the model in the place for the very first game, which was the St Kilda vs Richmond game in the AFL Women’s season, it was a bit of a shock.
“We had a phone call with St Kilda on Sunday, and a little bit later we got the message that it was going to be moved to Friday. It gave us an extra 24 hours, but we’re organised, it’s all here, the ground looks fantastic and we’re really looking forward to hosting again at SkyBus Stadium.
“We were approached by St Kilda, who had also been talking to the City of Frankston, who we work very closely with. It was a brand-new model with the AFL, so we had to set up venue agreements and there is a lot of background operations that goes into these sort of games.
“The first one was challenging, but we had a bit more time to prepare, but now once you’ve got the model right, you bring in the operational stuff to make it happen.
“I’m lucky that I have an operations guy, Dale Christie, who really does it all for me and we just work together, because we’re only a small crew here. The City of Frankston have been great in helping, we’re ready to go.”
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After 3,324 people attended the clash between the Saints and the Tigers, with another strong crowd expected this weekend, Lloyd pushed for more AFL Women’s matches to be staged at the home of the Dolphins.
“It was interesting to see the crowd at St Kilda vs Richmond, there was a lot of St Kilda and Richmond people here, people that support the Tigers, cheer squads and all that,” he said.
“Those people [that] probably came here for the first time would see that we have got this magnificent stadium with bay views, no cricket wicket in the middle and probably the best lights south of the MCG, so there’s good reasons why they would want to play here.
“I think personally they should think about doing a few more, especially with the situation in Western Australia at the moment.
“The infrastructure is here, the knowledge is here, so why wouldn’t you do a few more and get the AFL Women’s games down here?”
Plans for the future
After the Dolphins launched a women’s side in 2021, Lloyd revealed huge aspirations to make SkyBus Stadium a new home for women’s football in Victoria.
The women’s side plays in the Southern Football Netball League, finishing atop the ladder in division two before the season’s cancellation.
With a strong team on field and now big plans off field, Lloyd believes the club is in the best shape it’s ever been.
“We’re now looking at a $25 million development that will give us a 2,000 seater grandstand, a new home for women’s football with proper change rooms, a gymnasium and that will really put us right on the map as a destination club,” the CEO explained.
“I think what it is done is that it has brought a bigger family. Back in the seventies, we had seniors, reserves, under-19’s, just the boys.
“Coming back, you’ve got a VFL side which is one side, now you’ve got a women’s side as well, so it doubles your players that are involved, doubles the parents, doubles the partners.
“We’ve worked very closely together and we train together, physios, doctors, all those sorts of things. I think, as we move forward, the aim is to get a side in the VFL Women’s, that’s an aim but the costs are high.
“That’s our aim, that’s where we want to get to, that’s why we want these facilities, for us and for every other club on the Peninsula, because the Mornington Peninsula finals are played here as well. It’s exciting, we think we’re well placed in 2022 and beyond.”
The game between St Kilda and the West Coast Eagles will commence at 7:10pm, with the game live on FOX Footy, Kayo, and Channel Seven.
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