Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Girl fights for 'right' to play footy with boys

A 14-year-old girl is attempting use Victoria's new Charter of Human Rights to allow her to play for her local footy team this weekend.

In what could be a precedent-setting case, Evelyn Rannstrom's parents are arguing their daughter should be able to continue playing in the under-14s team at Gembrook Cockatoo Junior Football Club as they push for the finals.
And unless she is cleared to play this weekend, Evelyn won't have played enough games to be eligible for the finals. 
Evelyn - who plays in a protective kevlar vest - has been denied an age exemption by the Dandenong Ranges Junior Football League to play in the under-14s as AFL Victoria rules exclude girls from playing once they turn 14 and discourage them from playing with boys above the level of under-12s.
Earlier this year, Ms Rannstrom's parents lodged complaints against AFL Victoria at the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
However this failed and today the case moved to the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal where it was argued that under the terms of Victoria's new Charter of Human Rights, she should be allowed to play.
The Charter became law on July 25 last year.
Barrister Will Alstergren, acting for Evelyn, told VCAT today that they were seeking an injunction to allow his client to play for Gembrook-Cockatoo this weekend.
Mr Alstergren said that with nine games already completed Evelyn would not be eligible to play in the finals if she did not play the remaining six games.
He described Evelyn as "the linchpin of the backline" and said she was one of the team's best players.
Evelyn applied for registration for Gembrook-Cockatoo U14 team but the Dandenong Ranges Junior Football League refused to accept it in February this year.
She has effectively being sidelined since then although she still trains weekly with the team.
Mr Alstergren said that his client was in a bind because the league argued she was too good and too strong to play in the U14s but too weak and in danger of injury if she applied to play in the U15s with a gender exemption.
Mr Alstergren accused the league of using a technical excuse when in fact it might be saying "she's a girl and can't play"


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