AFLW Review – A League of One’s Own: The AFL and Women’s Sport. We want your feedback

A panel discussion, moderated by Karen Lyon was held at The Wheeler Centre on Wednesday night. Susan Alberti, Sam Mostyn, Angela Pippos, Darcy Vescio and Bri Davey were on stage, surrounded by an active and happy audience. It was a brilliant night. Susan Alberti bought up something interesting during the discussion. She and Darcy Vescio are part of an AFL review of the 2017 AFLW season.

 

I thought the Almanackers who followed the league closely, and wrote for our Women’s Footy Almanac, and others, would like to add their thoughts that we’ll try and get to Susan. I am looking for positive actions or discussions on how it all played out, and humour is always welcome.

 

I also want to know which of our writers are closely following VFLW this season, and encourage writers to continue help us learn about the latest up and comers and superstars of women’s football. I will be following the St Kilda Sharks. Who else out there is up for contributions?

 

About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.

Comments

  1. Pete Fumberger says:

    Women’s AFL, the AWFL, or LAFLot as I call it (Ladies AFL of tomorrow), is a joke. The standard is exceptionally mediocre and pathetic, and nothing anybody can say or write will change that fact. Yes, journos will spruik far and wide about how blahblahblah it is, but it is pathetic, and everybody, yes, everybody, even the players, knows it.
    My football team of 1972, the Robinvale U16s, premiers that year in the Sunraysia District Football League, would give the AWFL’s team of the year, the combined best team of 2017, a touch up. And it continues to behove me as to why people are celebrating mediocrity, and not just ordinary mediocrity, it is sublimely mediocre. It would not even rate in the top 50 leagues in Australia, and I am being nice here. Which is why no commercial televising of this rubbish will happen. It will only be aired on public funded entities like the ABC, because the ABC is not about making money through sponsorship, no, the ABC is all about propagating the lefty narratives, like women, blacks, homos, disabled, that alphabet soup group thing about trans something or other, muslimes, all the lefty luffies’ causes du jour.
    The AFL should butt out of the AWFL, and allow it to go its own way. If there is enough interest, as in ticket sales, sponsorship, TV rights, donations by the likes of that Susan Alberti who I believe is financially very well off and any others who want to fork out their own money to make it a viable proposition, it will be a viable proposition. Put your money where your mouth is, but, don’t just donate, make it a business proposition, like being a shareholder, and if the shares go up due to the absolute juggernaut that women’s footy evidently is going to be, these shareholders will make money.
    Same with TV rights. I am sure if those in charge of sport at all TV stations and organisations think that they can make money by televising the women’s football, they would be all over it, prepared to fork out millions so they can make millions in return.
    Again, women’s footy is a joke. Everybody knows it but they do not want to admit it.
    And John, don’t bother writing to me to tell me that this will not get posted, like you did last year over something I wrote about women in sport. Or maybe it was about blacks. Actually it might have been about goodes and how you lot think that those booing him are just racists, when we all know that it wasn’t, because if it was the booing would still continue at all black players, which it isn’t. Who knows and who cares? This won’t get up, I accept that, and it bothers me none. I just like to get my views across, even if it is to some cowardly galoot like you.
    My one wish for this year is to see or hear or read of just one journalist or sports commentator or footy show host or radio commentator to come out and admit that women’s footy is a joke and exceptionally mediocre. They say patience is a virtue, which would make me very virtuous, as those words I doubt I will ever hear of or read about.

  2. Yvette Wroby says:

    Hi Peter,
    thanks for your response. You are free not to watch, read or worry about the advent of the AFLW, as is your inclination. Just a few thoughts after reading your feedback. For a group of players who had three months to prepare to play together, in hot summer conditions, with a different sized ball and different numbers on the field, I thought they showed great skill and improvement over the short season. I would guess if they played longer together, this improvement would have continued.

    Women’s footy is not a joke to those who play it. Women have tried to have their own competition for 100 years, and most girls who wanted to continue to play past 14 years old, when the most skills are learned, have been denied that. The women’s leagues work with less support, funding and attention than any local or VFL team, until now.

    The increase in participation shows that women want to play, and with the AFL and state leagues support, the skills will get better over time. If men had been denied the place to play, their skills wouldn’t be up to scratch either.

    You are not obliged to watch or participate if you choose not too, and your opinion is noted.

    Also, these games were on commercial TV throughout and had brilliant ratings. They earned good money from sponsorship and and TV ads.

    It will only improve. I’d be interested to see if your opinion changes when the AFLW finally have women who have played all their life in footy and other sports and are fitter, more skillful and experienced.

    As for their passion and will for the ball, their brave acts and tough footy, they impressed me greatly.

    Enjoy your men’s season.

  3. Tony Robb says:

    Hi Yvette
    Here are some thoughts from my post a few weeks back
    Cheers
    TR

    The Teams – Eight was the most teams that the league could have fielded. There was vast difference in ability and skills levels due to a number of factors. Clubs recruited from existing women’s clubs as well as from a cross section of other sports, particularly soccer, netball and basketball. Great athletes don’t always make great footballers and many of the cross coders were anywhere near the more experienced footballers. To field any more teams would further dilute to pool of talent resulting in the quality of games dropping off and support diminishing. While other clubs understandably want part of the action, an expansion of teams would be ill advised until there is continuity of participation from junior football through to senior football. As a generalisation, the better teams had up to six really good players while the teams that struggled had two or three. Spread those player over another four clubs and the end product will suffer significantly. My daughter had to stop playing mixed footy at 14 and only had the option of open women’s footy or to stop playing, which she did until this year. That four to five year hiatus must be addressed somehow however there presently aren’t the numbers to create viable competitions.

    Skills/Scoring – As I’ve outlined above, the drop off in skills below the top three to six player was marked in some teams. The same could be said of the men’s league but the basics skills of some were very poor and can’t, and shouldn’t be, be glossed over if the league is to garner the support of the crusted on traditionalists who looked for any reason to bag it. I also suspect that the game plans that some teams were trying to implement were not realistic at this stage of the league’s development and this exposed players of lesser skill and experience. I feel that the women’s league should not try to be a clone the men’s. Promote one on won contests and an open playing style. This also assist in increasing scoring, which was another gripe with keyboard heroes in the Sun-Herald. Another factor was the enormous pressure that was applied by all players. There was no shortage of effort in attacking the ball carrier and the intensity of contests was top notch by any standard. I believe that the skills will gradually begin to match the intensity over the next five years.

    Talent Pool – As I’ve already mentioned, the AFLW drew many players from other codes and sporting backgrounds. This is fine and recruits such as Brianna Davey, Soccer, and Erin Phillips, Basketball, were outstanding however I reckon the latter my have had a few kicks with dad in her formative years. A concern for women’s sport in general is if, as I believe it will, salaries increase and the season is expanded, then footy will start to cannibalise other codes as seasons begin to cross over. The new structure of the netball league will protect the majority of its’ better players however basketball and soccer will be hurt. Other sports such as athletics and swimming will also be affected as recruiters look for elite athletes to fill their ranks. That has ramifications for Olympic sports. However, if the general rate of female participation in sport increases in Australia, then that can only be good.

    Tackling – There was no question for me that one of the highlights of the women’s league was the tackling and importantly, how the umpires interpreted them. Pity they won’t apply the same adjudication in the men’s comp ensuring endless stoppages. A lack of awareness from less experienced players probably contributed however the tackling was often fierce and hard, no more so than in yesterday’s GF. There was also a lot of high contacts which normally came from poor techniques and I suspect many player actually not knowing how to brace themselves for a tackle. Tadhg Kennelly commented when he first played AFL he had no idea how to ready himself to be tackled and was a constantly hit in the head. This raises concerns in relation to concussion and needs to be monitored. Again I feel that things will naturally be corrected as we don’t want to see that intensity diminished.

    Ticketing – Plenty of critics said that the only reason people went was because it was free. Rubbish. People would have paid a reasonable fee however I think the free entry was a clever move in the inaugural season. If your willing to travel to attend the game I am sure $5-10 would not faze anyone if it is solely funnelled back into junior girl’s footy. There was no doubt a novelty factor for some spectators, particularly the first game at Princes Park. However, you can’t hide from the numbers and the numbers were fantastic. The Suns would kill for them. AFLW games should be played as curtain raisers if the AFL is really committed to the women’s game. How about playing a Carlton v Collingwood netball game before the men’s and women’s AFL games? Price it at say $10 above normal general entry and I would be surprised if 15-20,000 people didn’t show up. You bring new supporters to the game including more young girls who presently don’t follow footy and possibly become keen to play it. If the precious men’s league are concerned about the playing surface, play the netball and AFLW after the men’s game around 5.30pm. Kids are home by 8.30pm. It would be one of the most unique sporting events in the world.

  4. Tony Robb says:

    Peter
    You make some valid points however you make them in a ridiculous manner that is better suited to the Herald Sun. blog sites where the keyboard snipers hide If you chose not to watch or support women’s football soley on skill level then I can only assume you switch off the Tele whenever some bloke misses a shot for goal from straight in front. Thankfully people like yourself will not be in attendance when my daughter plays. Foxtel showed all games and they rated well. Seven showed the GF so not sure what you are referring to regarding television coverage. Best you get back on Mr Bolt’s blog with al the other sad old men.
    Enjoy your ignorance

  5. Yvette – I’ll be watching (wait for it) and sort of barracking for (can’t believe I’m saying this), a team out of Box Hill in the VFLW called the Box Hill H……, H………, H…………, Hawks. Gee that was hard to say. Horrible colours, horrible insignia, horrible club song. But I do have an interest there. Will be watching a fast and furious midfielder who carries the same surname as I do. Go Clare!

  6. Rick Kane says:

    Dips, that was the little sliver of light I was looking for following Sunday WTF was that, Sunday! You made me day. I barracked for the Dees during the AFLW season but still couldn’t bring myself to sing the team song after a win. Just to add your these strange days Dips, when Yvette asked me if I was barracking for the Box Hill Hawks I said I’ll be sticking with the Falcons.

  7. Dave Brown says:

    I wonder about footy fans that conflate level of skill with heart in the contest, let alone feel the need to shout it at everyone. The number of games they can truly enjoy must be few. Me, give me a willing contest and I’ll watch it.

    Feel like I’ve said plenty on the season which was fantastic, Yvette, and my ideas about the future are the obvious (improve the fixture, pay players better, consider how venues might better cater for 5,000-10,000 fan size). Re. the above points about depth I don’t actually think that will be an issue. The explosion in participation and access of players to professional club settings at AFLW and state league level will see the depth in the second season of AFLW be significantly better than the first. The issue may be that the distribution is uneven (i.e. bringing in more Victorian clubs may dilute the pool there while the clubs in other states are able to fully reap the improvements in their locations).

    As for the winter, the SANFL women’s season has already been and gone. I’ll be keeping an eye on the first division of Adelaide Footy Women and updating people on my SANFL slot on the Footy Gospel podcast. Unlikely to get to much, though, in between an SANFL match and three junior footy matches each weekend.

  8. Punxsu.... Pete says:

    I loved the AFLW. Couldn’t believe how high the standard was, myself. And it will only get better. I’ve watched my mate Dave’s daughter play juniors over the last few years, and the talent coming through is mind blowing.

  9. Rick Kane says:

    Dear Pete F

    Why do you bother with such irrelevant fulminations in a discussion that you patently have no interest in? I cannot read anything constructive, instructive, enlightening or otherwise of interest to a debate on improving on the AFLW from its first season in your comment. May well you opine that women’s football is a joke. There are enough people who have a very different opinion and have had so for a very long time. Their opinions and hard work are of such value that the AFL has decided to back this historic development. So have companies wanting to sponsor the competition, teams and players. So have the punters, both in attendance, TV viewing and on social media. The inaugural season was comprehensively successful. So I don’t care whether you think it is a joke. That is your right and good luck to you. But as Dylan noted back in the 60s in a song called The Times They Are A Changin’, “get out of the way if you can’t lend a hand”.

  10. Rick Kane says:

    I agree with DB and others.

    The key improvements required are to do with fixturing and grounds. Melbourne has a number of grounds much better suited to the AFLW than either Collingwood’s training ground or Casey Fields.

    Game times also need to be sorted out. Consistent, regular, famility friendly times.

    I don’t think ticketing is an issue. Whether it remains free for the next few years or they adopt a $10 or $15 adult ticket schedule is not even a part of considerations. What is needed is to develop an established fan base and ticket prices are not a deal breaker. Fixturing could be.

    Print a weekly Footy Budget so we can see pictures and players numbers for the game we attend. We need to start owning our teams and players. The more information (readily supplied the better).

    Continue to attract sports women from other codes and sports. This is already taking place in a very constructed way in male sports. Of course women’s footy should make itself appeal to girls and young women looking for a sport to play and follow.

    I would make as few a changes to the game and rules as possible. I would have 18 players on the field rather than the current 16 players. It is either footy or it isn’t. I have watched women’s suburban footy and Unders for the last few years and I have no idea what the AFLW made the modifications it did. The game will improve, more running play will occur, kicking, handballing and marking will develop. But let women footy players play Aussie Rules, the same game and rules as any other Aussie Rules competition.

    Ensure that women lead. In management and coaching. It was fitting that a woman coach was the inagural Premiership coach. I want to see women’s names across all levels of achievement over the next ten years. And I think women bring a slightly different and better perspective to playing, skills, competitive drive and winning than male couterparts. I want to see female insights and energy contribute to improving the game (AFLW and AFLM) as a whole.

    More to come …

  11. kath presdee says:

    My two bob worth because one thing that needs to be remembered is that this is AFLW, not just VFLW (and the “A” isn’t just Adelaide!). This is solely from a GWS perspective:

    1) The season is too short – seven games means that some teams will only have three home games. When you’re GWS those games are divided into two in Sydney (Blacktown) and one in the ACT.
    Realistically how are you expected to build a fan-base if they can’t get to games? With four Melbourne based teams, you can probably get to at least five games to support your team, or just support the league.

    2) I like the idea of double headers – it builds the game – but not when it becomes ridiculous. The decision to make one of the Blacktown games a double header AFLW/JLT was great in theory but when this meant a 5:00 pm start time for the women, what on earth are they thinking? The ground is 30 kms from the CBD! Added to that….

    3) …the FTA broadcasting of the sport needs to be looked at carefully. I understood the logic of opening game, grand final and the Saturday night game each round, but for a national game this is ridiculous. As above, 4 GWS games were interstate and only one was televised on FTA. When GWS played Adelaide in their opening match, 7Mate covered the game in Adelaide but in Sydney I think we got someone’s fishing adventures and a second hand dealers auction show. No disrespect to the Doggies or Freo but why should we watch that game instead of our girls? Particularly when there are more women from Western Sydney playing in the GWS AFLW than in the men’s team! The AFLW should not be used as a vehicle to benefit Foxtel at the expense of growing the game.

    4) It has to be viable for the players to actually participate. While I loved the story of the “Condell crew” – a duplex rented for up to GWS players to stay in during the season – this should not be happening. I don’t know how the Brisbane and Fremantle teams dealt with it, but GWS drew their players from both Sydney and regional NSW/ACT. For every dairy farmer who commuted (and good on her) we had two or three juggling their jobs in Canberra, crowding into the car for the trip to Sydney, crashing overnight at the Condell duplex, spend a few hours training and then doing it all again a few days later.

    If this is meant to be an elite and professional league for women, then it should be recognized as such. It should be remembered that most of the semi-professional days of football were not involving national competitions. This means proper pay, access to facilities and, dare I say, actual career paths particular outside Victoria.

    5) How about some support for the state leagues so the standard lifts overall? I think it’s amazing that Renee Tomkins was part of the AA squad. She’s only played in the Sydney competition and she plays for my local club. However I shudder to think how the Sydney women’s competition is resourced in terms of availability of coaches and the like. The girls competitions are at embryonic status and, realistically, you’re unlikely to have competition at a school level. If we want the national competition to lift, you need to ensure that there’s quality coaching and facilities available to the State based comps and, flowing down from there, into the junior ranks. There’s limited point in opening a pathway to girls if you don’t resource the pathway.

    As for the Sydney comp, I’ll keep an eye out for how my Ramettes are travelling, although I’m pleased to see that Emma Swanson will be joining Fridge at Macquarie Uni. That’s a good start!

  12. bring back the torp says:

    It is absurd for some people to say, eg U 16 Boys would beat an AFLW side -completely irrelevant.
    We don’t say because the world bantam weight champion wouldn’t last 1 round against the world heavy weight, that the bantamweight is not a great sportsman -nor that it is “unworthy”to watch the bantamweight divisions. Put all sports in their correct context.

    The AFLW average no. of goals was very similar to the VFL men’s comp. (over double the game time) of 1897! The fact some of the early AFLW games rated over 1,000,000, peak viewing, indicates how popular the AFLW was -& that it was a good spectacle.
    Ditto some crowds up to 25,000 in Melb., 12,000 in Adelaide, 10,000 in Perth, 15,000 in the Gold Coast, 6,5000 in Canberra (Better than some A League men’s soccer, WBBL, NBL & WNBL, & Super Netball).
    2018 will surpass these figures.

    Season in 2018, with 8 teams, should have 7 H & A games, starting in early Dec, with a top 4 & 4 week finals series ie finishes late Feb. -virtually all in clear media air for the AFLW. Having a top 4 finals’series would keep more teams’ “alive”for possible Finals’action -so maintain more interest, for longer : less “dead “games.
    Don’t worry about Test cricket, BBL, or Aust. tennis Open. There are plenty of AFLW fans, who would want their footy fix on a nice, balmy evening – & would prefer to watch the AFLW over these sports.

    The AFLW should remain an off-season Oct -March comp. -to MAXIMISE ratings, attendances, media publicity, in” clean air.
    When men’s AFL pre-season commences late Feb., play AFLW Sunday -Wed: so AFLW games are not played same day as mens’AFL.

    AFLW games should NEVER again, in summer, be played before 6 pm -7.30 is even better. It is IMPOSSIBLE to maximise skill execution & decision making in high heat & humidity -sweaty hands, sweat running into, & stinging, eyes, more fatigue. This will partially disarm the trolls.

    You can’t compare the skill levels of the men’s AFL (who have had properly funded comps. since 1877) to the AFLW (year 1). In 10 years, the AFLW skill levels will be similar to the AFL.

    Men & women are biologically different -so their sports should not be directly compared.
    We don’t make derogatory comments about women’s tennis or golf. These are great sports to watch, & entertaining in their own right -some might say better to watch than the men’s.

    Collingwood need to have Vic. Park next year, never Oly. Park again. All grounds should have tiered embankments, to improve the spectator viewing. A lot of the charm of the AFLW was playing at old VFL grounds. No more FLAT ovals, like Brisbane’s South Pine -these are disrespectful to the AFLW.

  13. Yvette Wroby says:

    Hi Tony, thanks for your feedback, even though I want a Saints team, I can see the reasoning of not diluting the talent pool. What I do see is that other Clubs are making partnerships with local teams and hence building relationships towards having their own AFLW team, while supporting the girls and women developing. Scoring will get better with longer quarters, and with more players. Not sure why they thought 16 was better than what all the women are used to, nor why the ball size was changed. I am all for the players learning how to tackle and be tackled. Concussion and injuries must be part of their care packages. Ticketing will come, and I think needs to come. It will help increase the payment to the players as well as support the AFL so it can support the growth. It can be part of player deals to help past players with injuries etc.

    Dips, you make me laugh. Love that Clare is playing for Box Hill. I hope to hear reports of how Clare gets on. Excellent stuff.

    Rick, it’s hard to go past the Darebin Falcons. So many champions in that team.

    Dave Brown, thanks for your feedback too. The fixture has to be best for the women and not as an adjunct to practice matches. Stadiums need seating and shade if it’s going to be played in summer, and access to bathroom facilities.

    Punsxu..Pete, glad to hear you are watching and seeing talent as it’s developing.

    Kath, the season can be longer and definitely more of a finals series rather than one game. I also think that the skills improve over a season, as the team plays more together. It certainly looked that way, each team improved in skills and fitness over that short season. I think the AFL has changed the support for state leagues, the Vic one has been restructured. So many girls are now coming into teams that teams like the Sharks are feeding girls they can’t incorporate into other local groups, helping to build them up. There is a terrific feeling of working together and developing something.

    Bring Back the Torp, again, you bring so many great arguments and you come from a local club that has been dynamic and supportive of the growth of women’s footy. You are seeing it at the coal face, and doing terrific work. I agree about the games not being held in the heat of the day. The problem is that the times were great for family attendances. We need to make it so that it’s not in the heat but still at family friendly times. The community spirit was terrific.

    Thank you all. I am running all this off to give to Susan. Keep the ideas flowing, especially the positive ones which will help with the development of the game.

  14. Paul Spinks says:

    I reckon an opinion is better expressed than suppressed, and countered by good argument.

    Yvette, I enjoyed very much the footy I saw in the AFLW (before my exodus to Asian realms). I liked it because it was contested, and kinda because it was occasionally scrappy, and didn’t have any problems with low scoring or so-called lack of skill (the AFL’s pursuit of perfection, on the other hand, can often lead to a dull affair). I was amused, in a good way, how cult heroes emerged as the season progressed (even if I read about them rather that saw them in action).

    One of my concerns is that AFL coaching methods will infiltrate with possession footy and the like – saw a bit of it in the opening round Melb/Bulldogs game – the Blues/Pies game by contrast was great.

    I think the women’s league should be as little modified as possible. A smaller Sherrin I’m not qualified to question, but woman are quite capable of playing full quarters, for example, just as they are of running full marathons etc.

    Another of my concerns is that the AFL will use the women’s league as an experimental play thing, with an aim of introducing rules and modifications into the men’s league.

    The artificial structure of the competition was a slight impediment to enjoyment, especially if your team was unrepresented. If reports I read that Adelaide had developed few (if any) of its own players is true, then it could be viewed by some as an impudent it won the comp – or at least detract a little from it.

    However, I wrote in a previous post that I believe the women’s league should be as independent as possible, and I reckon that will happen in the future. Affiliation is possibly best until it establishes itself more firmly.

    There are some critics out there, but it would be the fantasy of many a male fan to have a girlfriend to play kick-to-kick with (IMO).

    I’m mainly inclined to get peeved when gender politics rears its incessant and contentious head, but the media is going to run with that regardless, and I’m free to switch off if it’s jumping at shadows.

    Overall, I think the women’s league is fantastic. Its timing gives fans an early footy fix as well. Despite negativity about skill levels they have, in reality, come a long way and will continue to improve – and quickly.

    As for the VFLW – naturally, I’ll be barracking for the Cats – haven’t had a close look at the fixture yet, but want to check it out.

Leave a Comment

*