Almanac Women’s Footy: A journey continues
As the inaugural season of AFL Women’s Footy approaches, I am struck by the level of excitement I feel. I feel emotional, I feel nervous. I feel I can’t wait for the actual games to begin. I have spent four years seeing the Western Bulldogs v Melbourne matches, being present at several, and seeing my local team St Kilda Sharks play a number of times.
And it’s not just me. The AFL is expecting a full house for the first game. People will flock to this historic event. I will be one of the flockers and I know many more. People will turn up because of what it means to so many.
I talked about my emotional state yesterday to a friend. She is 59, and said, she understood. She explained it was a lifetime of being seen as a girl who is less important. Her wish to study medicine was ignored by her parents, who loved her but didn’t think a girl would amount to much. She was left at 17 alone in Perth to pursue her aspiration if she could. She didn’t push through it. On reflection, the advent of women’s footy turning professional has revealed to her a group who are strong and magnificent who did push through their challenges. My friend studied nursing and later became involved in research, and seeing the women footballers being taken seriously has really hit home to her. She, like me, was struck by just how unexpected and strong her response has been. These footballers represent something deep within us – the strength. The possibilities. Hanging in there. And not being invisible and powerless.
The women players are playing out their own dreams, but they are helping us all with ours. Every woman and girl who watches these games lives part of our dreams vicariously. And hopefully, it will help girls of the future also take stands on everything in their lives. To take themselves seriously enough to push through the challenges and the limitations.
The very first game, taken seriously, playing for the AFL, playing in front of crowds and TV and commentators, means so much to all girls and women, and hopefully, to the men around too. Footy for boys is so taken for granted. It has been there, being highlighted for all our lives.
Women’s footy has been around for 100 years too, but always in the shadows. It ain’t in the shadows now.
Bring it on.
The Footy Almanac encourages contributors to write match reports and other stories about women’s footy. Read Yvette’s call to writers.