AFLW Round 1 – Carlton v Collingwood: This was no exhibition match
Carlton vs Collingwood
7.40pm, 3 February
IKON Park, Melbourne
I never grew up wanting to play football. I pretty much hated sport. PE class at school was a challenge and to this day I cannot stand going to the gym. Who am I kidding? I don’t go to the gym.
I was born to be a spectator.
I rocked up to Princes Park about hour before bounce down on Friday night’s first game of the inaugural AFLW Season to get a decent spot and lucky I did as a 24, 000 strong crowd packed the ground early, forcing the AFL to lock the gates and turn away many fans. Perhaps 2000.
Gil himself even stepped out to the concourse and apologised to the punters (mental note everyone – get to AFLW games early!).
I watched the two teams run through their warms-ups in the summer evening as I counted down the clock – it was still around 25 degrees with the sun bearing down. It looked sweaty out there.
As the crowds piled in, I wondered how many of the thousands of women coming to watch this historic event were looking at that scene in front of me with slight pangs of jealousy or regret – wishing that they had the chance to be out there rather than relishing being in the stands like myself.
The game started and the hairs on my neck didn’t settle until the final siren. When Jasmine Garner kicked the first goal at the eight-minute mark, my mate said to me, ‘You’ll never see that again,’ The first goal, of the first game, of the first season of this competition. How amazing.’
Carlton responded quickly with a Darcy Vescio special. A Captain’s goal from Lauren Arnell followed. Then another to Vescio out from the back of the pack before the first break.
I wasn’t sure who to cheer for but I quickly got on the Blues bandwagon as the continued to dominate, keeping the Pies to the single goal for the game and poster girl goal-snagger, Mo Hope out of the contest.
I watched these women running around, playing this game I have loved to watch my whole life and for a moment I got it, why some women have wanted to be more than spectators and be out there on the ground, slapping the Sherrin on their boot. These women made it look like wicked fun.
I wonder if I had seen women play when I was younger I would have been more interested in playing the game, because after the game – all I wanted to do was grab the footy and act out Vescio in front of goal like my brother used to do when he was pretending to be Matthew Lloyd.
But the future of football is not for me, it’s for all of the young girls who went along to the game with their favourite female player’s number painted on their cheek and on the back of guernseys. They can watch these athletes and make the choice. They can do whatever they like, and that’s what matters.
The Blues put the Pies away in the season opener of the inaugural AFL Women’s season in a highly physical contest. It set the tone for a season full of pressure, x-factor and the capacity to bring together football fans in an entirely new way. The best part of it was, that this was no exhibition game. This was for premiership points and we have another three games this weekend to enjoy, as well as a whole eight round season.
We are all going to see some pretty special things – maybe even special enough to motivate me to bounce the footy around.
CARLTON 3.0 4.1 6.1 7.4 (46)?
COLLINGWOOD 1.2 1.4 1.5 1.5 (11)
Carlton: Vescio 4, Arnell, Davey, Jakobsson
Carlton: Davey, Exon, Vescio, Jakobsson, Arnell, Keryk
Collingwood: D’Arcy, Chiocci, Barden, White