Collie yesterday played host to the first female football carnival in the town, with girls across the South West and upper Great Southern given the opportunity to impress coaches from the South Fremantle Football Club. The carnival was run by the Stephen Michael Foundation, which was established in 2017 by South Fremantle and the Department of Sport and Recreation to give back to the club’s recruiting district in the Upper Great Southern. Last year, more than 100 participants attended each of the two carnivals in Narrogin. This year’s carnival was held in Collie to make it more accessible for girls in the Lower South West. but also because it is the current home of the Stephen Michael, the foundation’s patron. Michael, who played 243 games for South Fremantle between 1975 and 1985 and was the captain of the All-Australian team in 1983, is also the current coach of the Collie Eagles’ under 14 girls team. The carnival was made even more important this week with news of the Collie Eagles pulling out of the South West Football League women’s competition and program manager Liam Anthony said the carnival was an incentive for the footballers after a season of training. “A lot of these girls won’t play any games this year, so it was a carrot for them to train towards this year, and gave them some football,” he said. “We wanted to get as many girls playing as possible, the South Fremantle coaches were there and they are keen for more girls from the region to play in their Rogers Cup team this year.” The young players were put through some skill-based drills at the carnival before being placed in teams to play games and show their skills against girls of a similar age.