Now that the first season of AFLW is over, it’s time to reflect and set the scene for the AFLM season as well as next year’s AFLW season.


Notice I’m not calling it the AFL season. We should be adding an ‘M’ to it and use the term AFL to describe the league generically.


I was greatly irritated by commentators who wanted to compare AFLW and AFLM. They are two different games, not least because:


  • AFLW has 16 players on the field, not 18 which the AFLM has.
  • AFLW quarters are only 15 minutes long with little or no time on – the rules were changed for the AFLW grand final, but the quarters were still extremely short when compared with AFLM quarters that generally run for nearly 30 minutes.
  • The AFLW season is shorter, by 14 weeks for home and away matches. This meant that every match was played like a final. Injuries had a significant impact, as there was just no time for recovery.
  • The heat also impacted the AFLW season, and I suspect attendances. For example, the Collingwood v Adelaide match was played on a ground with no seating, no shade and during the day with a temperature of 34 degrees and an apparent temperature much higher than that.
  • Scheduling of some matches on a Friday afternoon also had an impact on attendances. I don’t think there has ever been an AFLM match scheduled on a non public holiday Friday at 5 pm. It’s a big ask for Sydneysiders to get to Blacktown by 5 pm on a Friday evening to watch GWS and Melbourne (Round 5, AFLW).
  • There was no final series for the AFLW – the season went from the home and away matches to a grand final.
  • There were women, as a routine, in the media commentary for AFLW. Wowee!
  • I probably shouldn’t mention the war, but the pay for AFLW is significantly lower.


I think coaching style also had a hand in the season outcome. Adelaide’s coach, Bec Goddard*, had a different passion. We read about her writing each player a “love” letter at the start of the season. She didn’t have the lofty goal of finishing on top of the ladder; rather, she wanted Adelaide to be a good solid team and an integral part of the AFLW. Mind you, her work was cut out for her with half her team being based in the Northern Territory, but she was able to get that to work.


Letter from coach to player (source: The Age)


Whereas, I think the other coaches had a style that was more traditional. They may have benefitted from reading my article from 2013 (republished in 2017) about coaching women, which identified a higher degree of difficulty. So, even coaching styles do need to be different from those for the AFLM.


I have tried to find out where the umpires came from for the AFLW. It was evident that they were a significantly lower grade than those used for the AFLM. I am loath to criticise match officials, but often the umpiring was truly woeful and had a detrimental effect on match outcomes. For example, 50 metre penalties unfairly influenced outcomes in such short quarters. I am unclear as to why the top umpires weren’t used, but this needs to be addressed in 2018.


I have touched on scheduling in the AFLW. AFL is a winter sport. Playing in the heat of the day is positively dangerous for players, umpires and spectators. The Round 7 match between Collingwood and Adelaide was just appalling: half the spectators had gone by half time as it was just too hot. Oh, and Olympic Park Oval should NOT. EVER. BE. USED:


  • No shade.
  • No seating other than in the Glasshouse, which you have to join to get in.
  • Ergo, no facilities for the elderly (me), infirm (me) or disabled.
  • No toilets, unless you were a member.
  • Apparently the capacity is 3,000 – rubbish!


If it is to be used, more light towers should be installed, because people were fighting to stand in the shade thrown by the towers.


My suggestion is that 7 pm is the best time to start if we are going to continue with a summer/autumn season.


The grand final date and venue ought to be set at the start of the season so that spectators can make the most of travel arrangements. We know the date and venue for the AFLM. There’s nothing wrong with having the grand final in Melbourne. We have more than a century of history here.


While my AFLM team (Hawthorn) has not been going too well in the 2017 season, nevertheless I think part of my malaise about the season is to do with pay television not having any female commentary. I’m not sure when they’ll get the email about diversity in AFL.


While none of the AFLW players or coaches is prepared to talk about pay, I am. I hear people say it’s got to start low and gradually grow. Old chooks like me have been in the feminist trenches for nearly half a century. The adage “you’ve got to start somewhere” line doesn’t cut the mustard with me. How long do women need to wait to be treated equitably?


The players were told to expect about a nine hour per week commitment. You just can’t stay fit and focused with an allocation of only nine hours. The women who live in Gippsland or in Canberra who had to travel significant distances for training spent considerably more than nine hours a week in the name of AFLW. Thank you to them. But they should be paid.


I think we, the spectators, are lucky that the AFLW players and coaches were so committed because we saw a rip-roaring competition. We thank their employers for supporting the cause. It’s not expected in an AFLM’s world, though.


I’m looking forward to next year’s competition. Hopefully the AFL will take on all my suggestions. Feel free to give me a call as I’m happy to provide free advice (as women always do)!


*Conflict of interest:  my niece!

About Anne Cahill Lambert

One of the first females to be admitted to membership of the G. Thank you Mr Cain. Nicknamed The Hyphen by Alamanac Editor, despite the fact I don't have one.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Brilliant stuff as usual. This needs to be sent to the AFLW Review (Susan Alberti and Darcy Vescio are involved). Email Josh Vanderloo at AFL House.

  2. Anne Cahill Lambert says

    Many thanks for the suggestion, Yvette. It would be good for them to get some advice from those of us who undertook interstate travel to each game!

  3. bring back the torp says

    You are 100% correct re summer heat & humidity. OBVIOUSLY affects the standard of play -sweaty hands, stinging sweat & suntan lotion in the eyes, fatigue. All games should be played in late afternoon in summer -7pm best time.

    Cameras should have been set up high on scaffolding in the outer, panning across to the bigger crowds on “grandstand side”-like Pt Melb. VFL games. Creates a better impression & atmosphere for the TV viewers watching -sell the sizzle!

    Maybe go to 15 players per team in 2018 -too many stoppages, scrappy play, caused by big flooding constantly. Or new law that both sides must keep at least 3 players inside their 50 metre line at every stoppage -before every ball up, or boundary throw in.

    I think the public would be willing to pay $5 entry for adults, $2 for U 18 males, nil for girls U18. Half of funding to go to AFLW players, half to be spent directly on community female football facilities. Attendances unlikely to be affected, standard will improve every year.

    AFLW rated well, broadcasters should pay for Rights in 2018 -& same monetary split on funds raised.

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