AFLW Round 6 – Carlton v Melbourne: Post Game with Paxy

Melbourne secured second spot on the AFLW ladder on the weekend after a resounding victory over Carlton at Ikon Park, defeating the Blues by 35-points.


They also secured a place in the history books after an explosive opening term saw them claim the title of the first AFLW team to score six goals in a quarter, due to an early bag of three to mid-fielder Elise O’Dea.


Carlton managed to contain the Dees somewhat after quarter time with their traditional, defensive style but the Melbourne mid-field and Darebin Falcon prodigies in Daisy Pearce, Karen Paxman and O’Dea brought the brawn, O’Dea finishing the day with 19 disposals and 7 tackles alongside her three majors, Pearce with 17 touches and Paxman with 15 disposals and 4 tackles.



Melbourne sing the song after defeating the Blues on Sunday. Photo: Kasey Symons



After the game, Paxman put the win down to the aggression that they had brought back into their game against the Lions the week before after two losses on a week-long road trip.


‘We knew we had to play that aggressive style of footy we played last week and we had twenty-one contributors again today I reckon – plus we got off to a great start.


It’s an awesome feeling winning today and puts us in good stead for next week.’


Next week’s Saturday night clash against the top-of-the-table Western Bulldogs has now shaped up to be a thriller with a place in the Grand Final on the line.


Paxman says her Dees will bring more of the same from the last two wins when the face the Daughters of the West and maintaining the basics will be important.


‘We just need to strip it back and still play aggressive footy. Winning the ball first is key.’


The Demons are aware that some upsets this round have put them in a good position but a repeat of last year’s Grand Final miss due to relying on the victory of another club is not something they want to repeat.


‘It is handy for us, the other results that have happened this weekend, but in saying that, it’s still totally in our control and we have to win next week.


So we’re not thinking too far outside of that, we’re just thinking about what we need to do to play another good four quarters of footy and winning.’


The win on Sunday however, was not all smiles and celebrations as one of the club’s key players, defender Melissa Hickey, went down in the third quarter in what looked to be a painful knee injury. As she was assisted off the ground in tears by the trainers, the look in her eye said it all.


She’d done an ACL before and scans on Monday confirmed that she was indeed recalling that same pain from the past.


Anyone who follows Hickey on social media will know that Paxman is a regular feature, the two’s friendship is something that extends outside footy as it does for most of the AFLW players who have bonded through VFLW and junior sport.


For Paxman, the friendship between the players is the best part of being in the league – outside playing the game obviously.


‘Last season we were all getting to know each other and this season we’ve really consolidated on that foundation so we’re a much tighter bunch and I think it’s safe to say we’re all friends now.


Hicks is probably the number one though I reckon.’ She laughs and spies Hickey who is standing behind me, strapped up with ice and finding comfort in a family friend.


She looks back at me shaking the picture of her injured pal and makes light of the situation at hand.


‘Because of her muscles!’ I laugh with her, I can’t argue with that logic and I don’t want to ask her about who she thinks will step up in Mel’s place. It’s too much right now.


Paxman heads off to the team meeting and I catch Hickey’s eye.


We don’t know each other well but we’re both from Mildura. And of course everyone from Mildura knows each other somehow. Our fathers played footy together for the South Mildura Bulldogs. She now wears his number playing the game like a champion and I wear her player’s badge.


Despite her pain and the million things going on around her, she still gives me a hug and kiss hello and I wish her well before she limps off into the meeting.


All class.


No wonder she’s Paxy’s favourite.




About Kasey Symons

Kasey Symons a writer and PhD Candidate at Victoria University. Her research is focused on gendered issues in sports cultures (primarily AFL) at a fan level. Kasey is a born and raised Victorian who barracks for the West Coast Eagles and yes, she knows that is weird.


  1. bring back the torp says

    Hi Kasey

    Given your strong interest in female AF, & your PhD area of study (Gender In Sport), I would like to explore a “sport gender” issue with you.
    Some men, who have a close involvement in female AF, have separately told me they believe one of the attractions (but not the most important) for females playing AF is the large numbers in an AF team -anything from 15 -28 in a team.
    Because of the large number, it is easier to find “kindred spirits” & form friendships ie a player, or players who have a similar personality type/interests/background to oneself.

    And, if you don’t know anyone in the team (or hardly anyone well), & you are joining as a new player, there are inevitably other new players also in the team. Thus, it is easier to meet new people/”break the ice” with them, & form friendships.

    In contrast, netball, basketball, & soccer have far fewer in a team. They might be more “cliquish”. It might be harder to find a team mate with similar interests etc.

    A Gold Coast Bond Uni. student is doing her MA, analysing why females play AF (which is absolutely booming in Qld., numbers similar to Vic.). I’ve forgotten her name, but read a summary of her initial findings! She has surveyed women players (she also plays AF for Bond Uni.).
    She also noted that women players appreciated the beneficial social aspect of large AF team numbers.

    Your views?

    Are you aware that in jnr female AF matches, a DISPROPORTIONATELY large no. of family -both mother AND father, grandparents, friends etc. often like to attend & watch the girls play (& even stay for the whole game!)
    This is in contrast to (generalising) the MUCH lower nos. who usually watch female jnr netball, basketball, & soccer. And takes into account the smaller team nos. in female netball, basketball, & soccer.
    Many parents etc. believe that jnr girls derive much enjoyment & “status” from these larger nos. watching the jnr girls play. And it may be one reason (not the most important) for the explosion in jnr girls (who tell their friends) starting to play AF.

    Your views?

    The ARU started to promote FULL contact female RU 7’s c. 5 years ago; & in 2018 are promoting heavily Super W, 15-a-side full contact RU. Similarly, the NRL is starting in 2018, & promoting heavily, a FULL contact women’s Rugby League 13-a-side comp. during the Sept. NRL finals.
    The numbers of women in 2018 playing full contact RU & RL are very small, cf. AF.

    The numbers of females playing NON-CONTACT touch/tag etc versions of the rugby codes in Aust. have for a long time been very large (particularly in NSW & Qld schools). Approx.150,000+ in 2018.

    As RU & RL are sports that are, arguably, much more physicaly demandingl (requiring constant tackling) than AF, do you believe they will, in the next 10 years, ever attract female participants in nos. reasonably close to AF? Or are likely to be a small % only? And reasons?

    RL is the dominant, most popular sport (on all metrics, except for participation nos.) in Qld.
    However, the nos. of females playing AF in Qld. are huge -until 2017, were even larger than Vic., AF heartland! Females represent, incredibly c. 39%, of all Qld. AF nos.!
    Do you have any explanation for this phenomenon?

    Finally, what are your views on the main reasons females like playing AF?
    Any suggestions on how the nos. might be greatly improved in the next 10 years?
    (Excluding the AFLW progression to 18 teams, which will obviously promote strong interest in female GR AF).

    I hope you don’t mind me “ambushing” you on these issues. I thought your PhD studies might be able to offer an interesting analysis. And your views would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Thanks for this huge comment, Bring Back the Torp. With a lot in it. I think it’s very hard to respond to some of these assertions without considerable research which unfortunately I don’t have time to pursue.

    While Kasey has a big interest in gender and sport, her PhD is in creative writing! She has written a novel about being a fan.

    It would be good to read a piece – or various pieces – which present the evidence around some of these topics and to point us at the sources. If you have time! I am interested in female paticipation in Qld.


  3. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Bring Back the Torp,
    boy that’s a lot of questions for our editor!

    I do know that each woman and girl player I have talked to say that what they love about AR is the huge group to play with. The team spirit aspect is a huge attraction, and I think the passion of the girls/women playing also brings along their family, partners, etc etc. I have loved going to these games on all levels as the people around, many connected to the players, love a chat and to have someone they can share their pride with.

    With footy, there may be a point you make about numbers – there would be groups who are playing, groups who are injured, groups who missed the call up. At the AFLW matches, if you watch the singing closely, you’ll see those women mix in when it comes to the singing too. It’s like the whole group is part of it even if they don’t play.

    What I’ve seen of VWFL games too, those who are not playing in the game are often helping run water, coach, assist the coach or medical staff etc. Everybody helps the club even if you don’t play. Darebin Falcons is a perfect example, they are a huge club run by women who have soccer as well as footy covered, have strong community roots, local sponsors etc. People want to help.

    The closeness may also come from the fact that there is so little outside organisational support. If the women/friends/partners/children don’t chip in and help, it won’t happen. Teams become extended family. At the best and fairest of the St Kilda Sharks last year, the camaraderie was something to behold. Jenna Bruton, now a Bulldog, was surrounded by her family, but the whole room were her mates, team mates and friends.

    The community mindedness then gets transferred to the AFLW. Post games you see players hugging friends and family, as well as fans. Anyway, that’s my two-bob worth!

  4. bring back the torp says

    Hi John
    I misunderstood the nature, as it is described in Kasey’s description above, of Kasey’s PhD in “gender issues in sports cultures”. I thought Kasey’s PhD studies were more pertaining to sociology/psychology -hence the nature of my questions.
    The growth of GR female AF is a phenomenon -a huge participation boom, in a full body contact sport, in a relatively short time.
    I will try to track down the Bond Uni. student who id doing a MA examining these issues (& what is going on with Qld. females & AF!)

    Hi Yvette
    Yes, anecdotally, many female players appear to appreciate the BIG group of other females they are AF team mates with; & the, generally, very strong team spirit, & real ” Club culture”. Unlike some other sports, there is more to AF than just rocking up and playing a game.
    With the increasing popularity of females playing, if it increases at the same level for the next few years,we could have trouble finding sufficient grounds to train & play!

  5. Kasey Symons says

    Hey Bring Back the Torp, I definitely don’t think your questions are an ‘ambush’, they’re thoughtful considerations and insightful commentary, but as John mentioned above, I’m probably not the best placed person to help answer them for you!

    My PhD studies are focussed on the fan experience for women of elite male sports, predominantly AFL, and how female fans relate to male fans and other women in that space in gendered ways and how they create their fan identities.

    In regards to participation and the experience of female footballers and/or athletes in team environments, that kind of insight is not my area of expertise as I have never participated in team sports myself. I’ve always been a fan on the sidelines – hence my interest in researching the fan space.

    In the women’s game I am first and foremost a fan and cheerleader for women. My passion for women’s footy comes from wanting to support women doing their thing and providing the game and it’s players with adequate coverage through the platforms I have access to as a writer.

    Through my studies I am exposed to some amazing researchers who are involved in many different fields in women’s sports research so if I come across someone who I think may be able to offer some insight into the questions you have raised I’ll definitely try to get some more information and communicate it back to you.

    Thanks for posting!

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