Community football clubs across the country will have the opportunity to create more female-friendly facilities, thanks to the introduction of the Bunnings Helping Hand program.

The new initiative, in partnership with the AFL, will provide one community football club from each of Australia’s eight state and territories with a $30,000 grant to put towards the upgrade and or maintenance of facilities to make them more user-friendly for female footballers.

Applications for the Bunnings Helping Hand Program will open from Wednesday April 28 until June 9, with eligible community football clubs encouraged to apply via afl.com.au/bunningshelpinghand.

The fifth season of the NAB AFLW competition saw another year of growth, with strong crowd attendance figures resulting in 13 sold-out matches, increased broadcast ratings and digital consumption, while AFLW club membership numbers reached an all-time high, recording 24,423 members.

AFL Executive General Manager Customer and Commercial Kylie Rogers said the introduction of the Bunnings Helping Hand program would bolster the future of female football.

“Bunnings’ support of female football has been significant, not only at the elite level with its sponsorship of the NAB AFLW competition, but at the grassroots level through its new Bunnings Helping Hand initiative,” Ms Rogers said.

“Through the introduction of new female football initiatives like the Bunnings Helping Hand program, we hope more women and girls feel inspired to get involved in our game and be part of the continued growth of the NAB AFLW competition for many years to come.”

With more than 600,000 women and girls playing football across the country, Bunnings Managing Director, Michael Schneider said Australia’s leading retailer of home and lifestyle products is committed to building inclusive and welcoming communities and were very excited to launch an initiative to help women and girls in sport thrive.

“We know the important role local footy clubs play in bringing communities together and through our partnership and support of the NAB AFLW competition, we hope to demonstrate our commitment to women and girls in sport and make a meaningful difference to the wider community.

“Achieving change requires commitment from many and as a proud AFLW partner it’s just a small way we can lend a hand,” Mr Schneider said.

Bunnings Helping Hand ambassador and Melbourne AFLW captain Daisy Pearce said the Bunnings Helping Hand program is a great opportunity for community football clubs to make their club more appealing for female footballers.

“Grassroots football clubs are the heartbeat of local communities everywhere and the place where I first developed my passion for the game, so I’d encourage all community football clubs to apply for the Bunnings Helping Hand program to make their clubs more inclusive of the next generation of female football stars.”

Richmond AFLW captain Katie Brennan said it was great to see more organisations invest in the future of female football.

“The growth of female football over the last few years has been enormous, so it’s really exciting to see more AFL partners get on board and support the development of female football from the grassroots level to the elite.”