PARTICIPATION in women's football has exploded across the country over the past few years, with Victoria surpassing 1000 registered female teams for the first time.
The number of teams has tripled over the past three years, with at least 80 per cent being junior sides.
AFL Victoria has said there are three main elements behind the astonishing rise: pathways being implemented from Auskick to the NAB AFL Women's competition, female football being embraced by local clubs, and partnerships with both local and state governments.
"In 2010, for example, we had something like 58 teams, now we have 1092. There are 28,500 women and girls playing [football] here in Victoria," Martin Pakula, the Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, said on Tuesday.
"We've put in $20 million at Ikon Park to make it a home of women's football, and investments in female-friendly changerooms and women's football infrastructure right across the state.
"So, this is a wonderful story. The growth of girls and women's football is quite exponential now."
Richmond recruit Katie Brennan and North Melbourne midfielder Kaitlyn Ashmore were on hand at the Tuesday morning announcement to acknowledge the milestone, along with players from the Richmond Junior Football Club.
"Often when you're out there on the field in AFL colours, getting the opportunity we have, sometimes you don't think about the impact you have on young girls," Brennan said.
"I know through my juniors, I was the only girl at the Logan Cobras in Queensland. To know there are now nine teams at this one club in Richmond, and all these beautiful young women get to express their athleticism, get physical and play the game we love so much, is a really special thing.
"Thank you to AFL Victoria for their investment in women's football. Not only in those senior pathways at the top, but also the investment they're making at grassroots level to make sure (young players) have the right infrastructure and the right opportunities to one day – if they want to – pursue AFLW.
"But right now, it's about getting out there and having lots of fun with their mates."
Ashmore told womens.afl she hadn't expected the huge growth in women's football off the back of the AFLW competition.
"I spent my first two years in Brisbane. I knew (Australian Football) wasn't the main sport up there and I didn't know how it was going to go," Ashmore said.
"Katie and I are proud to be, as they say, ambassadors for women's footy, and the future's very bright. It's great to see girls choosing footy as their sport, I would have loved to have been able to do that when I was six. I wish I could see into the future and see what it's like in 10 years, because if it's this big now, it's going to be great."
Ashmore said after a break following the AFLW season, her first VFL Women's competition game with North Melbourne affiliate Melbourne University will be in a fortnight.
"It'll be against Richmond at Arden Street, which will be exciting because it will the first home game for us at the oval [after a redevelopment]."