AFLW Round 1: Carlton v Collingwood (Floreat Pica Society): Women’s sport and footy the real winners… and Carlton
Written for the Floreat Pica Society by Holly Fahey
I was incredibly excited for history to be made on Friday. In all honesty, the AFL was a little bit behind some other sports, notably cricket and soccer, in offering elite level women’s competition.
I headed off to the ground with my parents and my friend, Steff. We are both rowing coaches at Melbourne Girls’ College and were excited to see our ex-colleague, Meg Hutchins, play full back for the mighty Pies. The crowd milling outside the ground was unlike any footy match I’ve ever been to-and I’ve been to a fair few in my 20 years! There were people everywhere, a buzz around the ground and an electric atmosphere. What I loved most about the crowd was that there were a lot of non-Collingwood or Carlton supporters-people were just there to see the women smash it. One of those just there to see a historic moment in football was my mum. Mum has zero interest in football, and never has had. I reckon she hasn’t been to a game with dad and I in about 8 years, but she decided to come on Friday to show her support for the girls and thoroughly enjoyed it.
As a passionate Collingwood supporter, losing to Carlton is one of the worst sporting things to experience. Although Friday night was one for the history books and the result was largely irrelevant, a huge part of me still wanted us to smash the enemies. Unfortunately, it was not to be. However, women’s sport and footy were the real winners.
The first 5 minutes of the game were pretty congested, with a lot of stoppages. There was a lot of back and forth with the ball while the nerves settled. The first goal of the game went to Collingwood’s Jasmine Garner, with whom I went to primary school. Even though we haven’t seen each other since 2008, it was still exciting to see someone with whom you have loose connections make their mark in sporting history! As it turns out, Collingwood’s first goal turned out to be their only goal.
The game opened up a fair bit after the first couple of minutes and the game started to get interesting. Our entries inside 50 to Mo Hope were Travis Cloke-esque, bombing it in long whilst she was outnumbered, and didn’t give her much of an opportunity to show her talent. We let them play a spare back for the majority of the match, without having an apparent plan B, making it difficult to score. Carlton were quick, they tore us to shreds with their leg speed and quick ball movement. Darcy Vescio was clearly best on ground, playing an incredible match, kicking four. Hutchins got a lot of the ball down back, much to the excitement of Steff and I, out-bodying her opponent on many occasions.
It seems that the Collingwood injury curse is not gender-specific with four of our girls going down throughout the match. There have been questions about the depth of our list in the lead-up to the game and it will definitely be tested in the coming weeks. Even though it’s always terrible to see injuries, it’s kind of cool knowing that the girls are going in hard and fast, with absolutely no hesitation.
A quarter-time message from Gillon McLachlan saying that the game was a lock-out and there were people unable to enter was met with amazement from the 25,000 lucky enough to get in. It looks like most of the games scheduled to be at the Holden Centre will have to be moved due to crowd size, which is awesome news! Who would have thought that interest would be so high? It has to be said that throughout the whole match, there was a happy and festive atmosphere through the crowd. There was a noticeable absence of angst or anger which are usually present at a Collingwood vs Carlton match.
Regardless of the result, we had a great night watching a high quality game. A full capacity venue and 1 million+ people tuning in on the telly shows that Australia is just as excited and ready as I am for the future of women’s footy.
People will have different opinions on the quality and necessity of the women’s league but I felt proud watching the game on Friday night. I’m excited that little girls finally have female AFL players to look up to and aspire to be. I’m excited that women finally have the opportunity to showcase their talent on the big stage and I’m excited to be a woman at this point in time.
The votes for the inaugural Alisa Camplin medal are as follows :