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AFL Barwon Female
Festival of Sport

2024 Female Festival of Sport Breakfast

Supported by The Athlete's Foot, the 2024 Female Festival of Sport Breakfast was held on Friday the 31st of May, 2024. 

Hosted by Connie Bolger, General Manager of Partnerships and Marketing at Geelong United Basketball, we heard from an inspiring panel of women in sport. The panel included Kelly Cartwright (Paralympic Gold Medallist), Ali Waight (Queenscliff FNC President), Emma Daffy (All-Abilities & Lara FNC Netballer) + Erin Hoare (Geelong Cats AFLW Player)

2024 Events


Monday May 27

With support from the BFNL & GFNL Representative Programs, a Netball Buddy Night was held at St Albans Football Netball Club featuring drills and activities with BFNL and GFNL Representative Netball Players. 


Wednesday May 29

With support from the Geelong Falcons & AFL Victoria, an Auskick Buddy Night was held at Highton Reserve. This event featured interactive drills & activities with the Falcons Female Footballers, introducing young females to football in a fun and exciting way.


Thursday May 30

Clubs were asked to elect their 2024 Female Club Champion, with the award presented at Thursday Night Dinner on the week of Female Festival of Sport. AFL Barwon supplied a gift and certificate for 1 recipient per club.

Introducing the 2024 Breakfast Host

Connie Bolger

Geelong United Basketball
Connie currently holds the position of General Manager of Partnerships and Marketing at Geelong United Basketball, where she plays a pivotal role in enhancing the association's visibility, engagement, and revenue streams. With over six years of experience in sales and client relationship management, Connie consistently delivers tangible results and cultivates enduring partnerships with clients and stakeholders.
Drawing upon her extensive background in sales and media, Connie has accelerated the growth of the Geelong United brand and increased participation across all levels of competition. She is dedicated to promoting inclusivity, particularly in driving female participation, and her leadership was instrumental in acquiring the Geelong United Women’s NBL license, showcasing her commitment to advancing the sport locally and nationally.
Connie eagerly anticipates spotlighting the achievements of females in various sports roles at the AFL Barwon Female Festival of Sport, while also continuing to promote inclusivity and excellence within the industry.

Introducing the 2024 Breakfast Panel

Kelly Cartwright OAM

Paralympic Gold Medallist

Born in Geelong, Kelly was a highly active kid, with a strong passion for netball. At age 15, after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer in her right knee, she was forced to make the life-changing decision to amputate her leg. 

After a painstaking 3 months of rehabilitation, she was fitted with a prosthetic leg. Having learnt to walk again, and facing the reality that her netball career was over, her passion grew for running.  

In 2009, Kelly became the first above-knee amputee woman to climb to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. She then rose to the top in Long Jump in 2012, setting a new world record; claimed the gold medal; and ran a personal best in the 100m to claim silver in London. 

After receiving the Order of Australia Medal, her drive for accomplishment focused towards powerlifting and set new Australian records at the National Championships, World Championships, and the Commonwealth Games in 2018. 

However, beyond sports, Kelly's proudest role is being a mother. Being an ambassador for Make-A-Wish Foundation Australia, Rare Cancers Australia and The START Foundation, Kelly is also in demand as a motivational speaker and a health & fitness model, being a strong advocate in normalising all shapes, sizes and disabilities. 

Ali Waight

Queenscliff Football Netball Club President

Ali Waight is the dynamic force behind Queenscliff Football Netball Club, making history as its first female president in a 140-year legacy. Alongside her leadership role, Ali manages a successful real estate property styling business and is a devoted mother of three sons. Her community-minded approach and goal-driven mindset have infused her presidency with fresh perspectives and initiatives, sparing excitement and enthusiam among QFNC members and shaping the club's future. 

Emma Daffy

State & Local All-Abilities & Lara FNC Netballer

Emma Daffy is a dynamic netballer, excelling both in mainstream and All-Abilities competitions. Her journey began in Warrnambool before she moved to Geelong and began All-Abilities netball at Lara Football Netball Club in 2017. With an immense passion and enthusiasm for the sport, Emma sought to challenge herself further and is now a star goal attack for Newcomb All-Abilities and Lara’s Senior Netball Club. Despite facing obstacles, including a diagnosis of autism at a young age, Emma's determination propelled her to represent Victoria in the Marie Little Shield, earning accolades like the Most Valuable Player. Balancing her passion for netball with her studies, Emma aspires to become a personal trainer and advocates for inclusivity in sports, encouraging others to pursue their dreams regardless of barriers. With her strong determination, Emma Daffy continues to inspire and break boundaries in the world of netball. 

Erin Hoare


Geelong welcomed back inaugural ruck Erin Hoare for the 2023 Season, drafting the former Cat with pick one in the AFLW Season 8 Supplementary Draft.

The 29-year-old came to the game late in her long star-studded career.  She played in Australia's premier netball league for three years while studying mental health, which included a stint at Oxford, a PhD, and recently, a Fulbright scholarship to map the impact of diet and exercise on mental health. 

She was picked up by the Melbourne Vixens in 2013, where she primarily played as goal shooter or goal attack, staying two years and winning a title in 2014 before moving to the NSW Swifts. One of the tallest players in the AFLW, Hoare is a talented ruck who played for Melbourne and Geelong in her previous AFLW stint, before heading overseas for an incredible opportunity to complete her post-doctorate studies at Cambridge University. Led the league for hit outs in her most recent season, and is set to team with Liv Fuller in the Cats’ ruck department for 2023.

What is the Female Festival of Sport?

The Female Festival of Sport is an AFL Barwon initiative which began in 2022 that is designed to celebrate, recognise and empower females who work, volunteer, spectate, or participate in sports within the Barwon region & across Victoria. 

The Festival features a week of activities that enable young females to engage in our sports in a fun way, acknowledge females making positive change in the region, and brings the community together to showcase the stories of inspiring females in sport.

The feature event of the week is the Female Festival of Sport Breakfast, which falls on the final day of the Festival. The Breakfast event features a diverse panel that discuss female-related themes and topics with the aim of inspiring and empowering the audience. 


The First Female Festival of Sport

The Female Festival of Sport has its first year in the Barwon region, with a variety of events throughout the week and the inaugural Breakfast event held at St Mary's Sporting Club.


The Female Club Champion Award is introduced

The 2023 Female Festival of Sport featured an action-packed week of activities, with the introduction of the "Female Club Champion Award" aimed at recognising a specific female at each club. 

The breakfast feautured a panel including Daisy Pearce, Lily Edwards, Sarah Albon & Emily Green - facilitated by Renee Garing.