Statement in full from SANFL, 4pm Thursday June 6:
Following an investigation by SANFL's integrity officer, Limestone Coast Women's Football League (LCWFL) player Casey McElroy has been charged by the SANFL for a breach of regulations for playing in a senior men's game on May 25.
McElroy has seven days to accept a six-week match penalty (which would apply in the LCWFL next season) or have the matter referred to an independent tribunal hearing.
Earlier this week a $2,000 fine was imposed on Padthaway Football Club by the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League (KNTFL) for playing McElroy in its men's B grade team against Kingston Football Club.
SANFL General Manager Football Adam Kelly said playing as an unregistered player in an official match was a serious breach of regulations.
"The legitimate registration of players and their eligibility to play is paramount to the integrity of all Australian Football competitions," Mr Kelly said.
By playing in this game unregistered and ineligible, McElroy has exposed herself to insurance risk, along with her team mates on the day and the opposition.
SANFL General Manager Football Adam Kelly said it was confirmed that McElroy was made aware of the relevant policies and regulations before the breach occurred, and she acknowledged her awareness of this during the subsequent investigation, however had still opted to play.
SANFL's inquiries also found that Padthaway B grade had 18 other players available to play on the day of the breach occurring. The KNTFL Reserves is a 16-player per side competition that has an allowance in match regulations to further reduce player numbers to as low as 12.
Under the Australian Football Match Policy, females are not permitted to play football in a mixed gender team after the age of 14.
"SANFL has worked with local clubs to establish the Limestone Coast Women's Football League which gives senior female participants in that region the opportunity to play and enjoy competition football," Mr Kelly said.
"We are investing in growing women's competitions right across the State to create increasing opportunities for females to participate and develop pathways in the game for those who aspire to play football at a senior, and elite, level."
SANFL currently oversees eight regional female leagues throughout SA to accommodate the rapid growth of female football participation. In 2019, female club participation has grown across the State by more than 20 per cent, to in excess of 7,000 players.
No further comment will be made until the matter has been finalised.