AFLW: Where’s it all at?

Folks, there has been a lot of criticism of AFLW this season. So let’s be honest and get both angles re women’s footy in general.


Here are some of the things which are being described as pros:


(1)  The explosion of numbers playing footy now this has run offs re councils giving grants for female changerooms and desperately needed upgrades to club rooms. With elections on the horizon in S.A. in particular this has given clubs a chance to put their case forward and has given clubs both professional and amateur re further grants


(2)  The increased numbers of women and girls playing means this can be integrated on a social level at clubs. It’s easier to get guys to go to presentations at a club or a pub! And, pretty simple, more numbers means more dollars. It’s far easier for clubs to survive and hopefully thrive.


(3)  Simply females involved in sport mean more people getting off their backsides exercising and socializing which helps re our country’s problem with weight and even obesity. Physical exercise has many benefits to individuals and communites.


(4)  The explosion of numbers playing the game means opportunities for both males and females in the umpiring sector.


(5)  Numbers watching AFLW, in particular females turning up in their own team’s guernseys at the Adelaide Crows v Brisbane Lions games.  Morphettville Park , Adelaide University, Salisbury FC etc along with SANFL club gear gives hope that the competition has a sustainable long term future.



(6) Increased interest in the game overall having the flow on effect of attendance at AFL and hopefully state league footy.


Here are some of the things that are being bandied around as cons:


(1) A large extent while there has been female footy competitions for quite a few years a lot of women are still om their P Plates at the elite level. We have cases women from other sports coming in at the top. Which is the opposite way to traditional/historical structures. Has women’s footy got a strong enough foundation/underbelly?


(2)  The fact that many women have not played from a young age means the vast majority haven’t learned to turn and protect themselves and while the commitment and endeavor to hunt the footy is SENSATIONAL the chance of serious neck and spinal injuries along with concussion is HUGE. Also, at the Crows v Lions game the number of sling tackles in particular and while in general I hate the sliding in rule there were occasions in the game when frees desperately needed to be paid for safety reasons, but weren’t. Female footy should be umpired in a technical fashion, which may be slightly different to male footy as the participants are developing skills. This is not a gender issue, it’s an issue of experience, and there is a lack of experience at top level because of the way players have been recruited.


(3)  People want to compare male/female footy. In general as spectators we shouldn’t be comparing male v female footy. Similarly we should not be comparing umpiring, just acknowledging that they will be umpired differently for the reasons explained.


(3)  Lack of facilities. This is a problem. Just finding enough spaces to play the game. Not sure re the answer on that one.


Summing up, being honest, I am finding the AFLW hard to watch. I think it has shown there isn’t enough class yet overall and there shouldn’t have been increased teams for this season let alone more next year.


I am not one who says the game has to charge admission to prove it can last long term. IF the game picks up and sustains sponsorship of women’s footy that is fine and the game can be supported and survive through that medium.


The game needs to hit the brakes and slow down a bit allow for slower natural growth, not forced into rapid expansion. I admit to more than a touch of cynicism in that the AFL top dogs are almost certainly on bonuses (not a parmi and pint deal) linked to increase in participants of our great game. So of course they are going the rapid and quick expansion path.


Again personally I think if there was a national reserves competition at AFL level the state leagues’ competition’ could be starting now while every one is looking for their footy fix getting desperately needed attention and media coverage and working together with women’s footy.


Your honest thoughts ?


Read more of Rulebook’s terrific profile pieces, especially of Norwood FC identities, HERE.


Read more about our book of the inaugural season The Women’s Footy Almanac 2017 HERE.

The Women’s Footy Almanac 2017


  1. Thanks for this Rulebook. You have called for honesty.

    I find this a complex matter.

    My thoughts are segmented. But ultimately I need to form a synthesis from my analysis.

    The most important lens for me is gender. I grew up in a so-called traditional olde worlde sexist mainstream community and understandably I was a product of that culture – embarrassingly when I look back at it. It took me many years, and many conversations, and much reading, and many friendships, and so on, to change my understanding. So, in my view, the social importance of the visibility of women’s footy and of women in sport, served so well by the AFLW competition, is really important to the culture.

    The complicating factor for me comes when I view things through the lens of commerce. The trade off is that the game is in the hands of an organisation which thinks and acts commercially first, and culturally second. There is no door at AFL House with AFL People, Culture and History in gold letters on it. Hence the women’s game exists within this monolithic commercial organisation and is directed by commercial imperatives. This is not just the motive of the AFL bosses. Women’s football has clearly welcomed the relationship – because it feels this is the best way of creating an elite, professional, competition where all who labour are paid reasonably. And can be full-time athletes. Women, like men, will then have the choice to pursue a life as a professional footballers, or a life as an amateur who earns their living in other occupations and play footy for enjoyment.

    I think the footy-as-a-sport lens is valuable – analysis of how AFLW games have been played is important.

    To give you an example of my own thinking, I found the commerce lens far more useful when peering into the AFL’s memo last week. And I found it interesting to chat with Bec Goddard about this matter on Offsiders, and after Offsiders where I learnt of the consultation throughout last season and pre-season this year between the AFL officials and the clubs/coaches.

    Even though, at times the lenses have not necessarily been identified in pieces on this site, I don’t think they have needed to be. There has been lots of clear thinking and balanced discussion here – and that has occurred without our eds calling for any types of pieces . There has been emotional celebration, there has been analysis of games from a footy perspective, there has been a conveying of experience, there has been open criticism and even a be-careful-what-you-wish-for piece.

    When I piece it all together I feel (and think) that the AFLW is one of the more significant forces to have impacted culture in recent times.

  2. Very thoughtful piece Rulebook. I am all for AFLW for many of the reasons you spell out at the start. Increasing sport participation (trickle down effects across society) and equality of opportunity are all to be welcomed. The skill level and my interest in watching games will likely increase greatly over time.
    My summer sporting interests are golf, tennis and European football in that order . I have other life interests than watching sport, and AFLW (like cricket) does not pass my time rationing priorities.
    If I had young daughters that could well be different (where you stand depends on where you sit).
    While on balance I think that more prominence for women’s sport is a great thing in increasing participation, and challenging the hyper-sexualised marketing to young girls (don’t get me started on marketing’s exploitation of kids) I agree with you that there will be fall out.
    What happens to netball? Netball and football on adjoining venues is a common sight particularly in rural Australia. Where do the male football colts and ressies go when the teenage women say “nah we’d rather play footy”? Competition is a good thing in the end that will force netball to evolve or disappear, but the competition for venues, players and umpires will be messy on the way through.
    Women can already make a reasonable professional income in soccer and basketball via the US leagues. Sam Kerr is MVP of the American Soccer League and on a 6 figure US $ salary. Yet people ask her “will you be playing AFL like Daniel?” Doh.
    A purely indigenous game like AFL can never offer the opportunities that international sports like soccer, basketball, tennis and golf offer women. Still – a rising tide lifts all boats – and that is overdue.

  3. I’m a big supporter of women’s footy and the bulldogs. I see the cultural benefits, as mentioned by John above, but that aside, I’m just enjoying the footy and following the bulldogs.

    Personally, I think there is zero need to view it through any lens, or to search out pros and cons. If we did that as a daily exercise for the men’s game, we’d have an ever-expanding list of cons if we tried hard enough.

    What about looking at it through a neutral footy lens:
    – I enjoy watching a bit of footy at this time of year
    – I enjoy following my club in both mens and women’s
    – the way the women go after the footy is UNBELIEVABLE! The more paternalistic amongst us will shudder, many of us will celebrate it
    and the clincher
    – Katie Brennan is a star, what an amazing footballer, what a leader, I want my daughter to be like her.

    Any blokes out there whinging about women’s footy should try and steer the footy through the big sticks from the pocket at the Whitten oval on a windy day the way she did first round, I can promise you that at least 9 out of 10 would fail.

  4. I think that we need to grow and develop women’s footy at all levels.
    The huge problem at the moment is that we have a lot of players at the top level who while generally great athletes have excelled in sports other than footy and have not developed elite footy skills because they haven’t played the game consistently as young kids. There is an old saying in footy which is still true which says if you cant kick you cant play. Most people can learn to kick a footy to some extent but to kick it well does take years of practice in addition to natural talent. Look at the mens competition who are full time footballers all year round and the time and effort it has taken to attempt to turn a few ex-basketballers into footballers. A lot of the AFLW players have not had these years of experience kicking a footy and hence teams are struggling to score goals. Shortening the playing field may help in the short term.
    This will improve over time if we get large numbers of young girls playing the game and put in place the right programs to develop the best of them into elite players over the next decade or so.
    One of the plusses of the current AFLW is that it is encouraging young girls to play. The AFLW needs to be continued to be developed but some modifications need to be made to produce more goals and hopefully less serious injuries.
    Like tennis, golf, soccer etc the womens version of the game will always be a bit different to the mens game. Aussie Rules is a great game and women should be given the opportunity to play it at all levels. It will take 10 plus years to develop a genuine elite women’s competition but it can be done if developed properly and not rushed.

  5. Great article Malcolm, and great comments others.

    I’ve been fortunate to have been pivotally involved in the AFLW experience at Adelaide Uni Footy Club. I say ‘fortunate’ because the experience has taught me many things and brought valuable insights I am grateful to have.

    Last year was a turning point for the Blacks in this space. We had several really strong and talented female leaders who had firm views about what was fair and were not afraid to put their position forcefully. As administrators we were challenged to make this club not just the best experience for women to date, but the best it could be. I had to adjust my lenses. Many of us did.

    We won premierships in Div 1 (an undefeated season and a grand final win by over 100 points) and 4; five of our Div 1 players were drafted to the AFLW; our div 1 coach was named the Elite coach of the year by the AU Sport and she and her Blacks’ assistants became the inaugural coach and assistant coaches respectively of South Adelaide in the SANFLW; and we won the AU Sport Patron’s cup as the best-performing uni club, for the first time. This was, it is fair to say, on the back of our women’s success (and that of the C5 men’s B*stards of course). But more importantly than all of this, we found an authentic gender-mutual respect.

    Some thoughts:

    1. Women still start way behind men in just about all things, but in particular in areas historically considered to be ‘male’. Women have to work so much harder to gain a place that men take for granted. When a woman knows what she wants and pushes hard to get it she is seen as ‘grasping’, ‘domineering’, and ‘a b*tch’. Thank goodness for these courageous women.

    2. Women’s footy is its own game. It is a mistake to compare it to the men’s game. When played well it is a joy to watch. When it’s a slog it’s a slog, but still a joy to watch. See last year’s div 1 grand final: The Blacks were superbly coached, highly disciplined and richly talented. Their zone was a work of art, and it was beautifully executed. Aspects of their game plan, likewise, were both brilliantly conceived and superbly executed. It really was a spectacle, a showcase of how good women’s footy can be.

    3. At the Blacks’ presentation dinner our club-person of the year spoke – spontaneously, in the context of a celebration of Blacks’ footy and in particular the success of our women – of his 8 year old daughter and how for her the Blacks’ women had become role models, and what brilliant role models they were. These thoughts echoed my own experience with a 10 year old daughter who in 2017 played, loved, and excelled at Auskick for the first time. I expect she will never forget the exhilaration she felt when competing in the lightning carnival against boys her own age, and beating them. As a father with an historical highly competitive streak (I’ve mellowed) it brought a tear to my eye. She walked taller afterwards, and we still talk about it. I wonder if she would have had this experience if not for the example set by other women.

    4. Having been engaged at the amateur level I enjoy checking in on the AFLW and SANFLW games to see how ‘our’ girls are going. It is kind of, I dunno, rewarding, to see Ruth Wallace, Courtney Gum, Sophie Li and other erstwhile Blacks smashing it on the big stage, and I check in regularly with master-coach Krissie Steen in the SANFLW. It’s nice to have these personal connections and that’s something the women’s game can still provide in ways the men’s can’t, at least in my experience.

    5. As noted recently by my eldest son, ‘Surely the fact that every football pundit and armchair expert under the sun has an opinion on AFLW – even if it is just pointing out its weaknesses – is proof enough that the league [and the code] has what it takes long-term. It’s year 2 and people care this much. That’s a huge win for the AFLW.’ I agree – the game is here to stay.

  6. Spot on point (3). It’ll grow to have better depth and skill but I don’t think AFL clubs will ever provide equal pay for women and mens teams the way tennis has done.

    Who’s your AFLW Troy Chaplin?

  7. Jill Tathra says

    Great article mate but like you I grew up when we had boys games and things and girls games and things and neither the twain shall meet. I still haven`t watch an entire quarter even of AFLW. Maybe I should sit and watch a whole game before I comment.. I usually take a while to adjust to new things so it could be just that or it could be that I just want to watch the “hunky” guys running around! I`ll get use to it I`m sure but think it will take a little while. As you know my favorite summer sport is tennis and with that I also prefer the men`s game to the women’s so maybe even at 71 I still enjoy watching blokes!!!!

  8. Lovely Lisa says

    For me the most important thing is anything that gets people interested, playing, helping and watching sport is great. We need to get if our bums!

  9. Rulebook – whilst you know that agreeing with you is against my religion (I worship the many Gods of Tigerland) my 19 year old daughter made a very interesting observation on this topic this week.

    At the mention of the AFLW she said ‘Don’t you think its fantastic dad’ to which I said ‘whilst its fantastic the girls are playing and getting the exposure, it is pretty hard to watch’ to which she said ‘yeah I know its a bit shit, well, quite shit really, but just imagine what its gunna be like in 10 years or 20 years, when there is a well established pathway, and girls are getting half decent training from a young age, being taught how to kick properly and protect themselves, and professional dietary advice and when sheer numbers involved drives more quality athletes and natural footballers to the top of the pyramid, its gunna be fantastic & I cant wait’

    So really, who gives a shit what us old blokes think – when our youth can look into the future with such a clarity of positive thought – that’s probably enough for all of us

  10. It’s a lot of us old blokes commenting Wippett! Freud (et al) might have something to say about that.

  11. Rulebook – terrific piece.

    Last year I watched my daughter play VFL footy with Hawthorn. It was a joy to watch, not because the standard was great (it wasn’t) but because the improvement was enormous. And I saw this improvement not just in their team, but across the competition.

    I have read quite a few things from Daisy Pearce. She is a very impressive thinker. Her comment that in a few years she’ll struggle to get a kick because the standard of football will go past all the “old girls” was telling. And I reckon correct. Give it time.

    My only issue thus far is that it has been rushed. Even the cultural aspect of it (and I agree with J. Harms’ comment that women’s footy has had a huge cultural affect). The AFL, and probably the women pushing the game, were too quick to push the elite competition. There is not enough foundation in place. If the viewing public is being told that the AFLW is elite, and the standard is poor, the danger is that viewers will drop off. They will probably come back, but could drop off in the short term. I would have preferred to see 4-5 years of State based competition, supported by the AFL, with maybe a season-end carnival to decide the best team in the country. That would build footy at a local level, and build the depth of players. This could have morphed into the AFLW after it was established.

    Leaving aside the support for the game I, like Rulebook, am concerned about the injuries that are occurring because bodies aren’t ready and technique is not mastered. I’ve watched this happen at the VFL level. Knee injuries are particularly concerning. And these injuries are somewhat physiological. A slower approach, a more considered and properly coached approach, might reduced this.

    The other thing the AFLW needs is a bit more tribalism. Why are the Carlton and Collingwood supporters so nice to each other? That might sound trivial, but the lack of tribalism speaks of a competition that is somewhat contrived. Give it a sold base and its future is secured.

  12. Thanks for this Rulebook. What I love about the Footy Almanac (well, one of the things) is that this discussion can occur respectfully. I have actively avoided looking at the comments on the facebook pages you have shared it to. Culturally I am a chauvinist – almost all of the culture I choose to consume (music, literature, movies, TV, sports) is produced by men. Not just because men produce the majority of those things in the mainstream but because that is where my (culturally conditioned) predilections are. It requires a conscious effort to consume things produced by women. I had to redouble that conscious effort once we had children – I would love to raise a son in a culture where these things aren’t issues and I’d love to raise a daughter in a culture where she doesn’t see walls in every direction she turns.

    The other side of that coin (or a different coin, I’m not quite sure) is that I love footy. The contest is more important to me than the skills (I find the idea that the greatest skills necessarily produce the greatest contest to be relatively perverse) and the AFLW provides that in spades. Give it time and support, don’t question its existence every five seconds, don’t watch it if you don’t want to and it will find its (commercially successful) place. Furthermore, from an extremely selfish place, I have a strong sense that this presents an opportunity for a sustainable NFC and the Parade. I’m not sure what that looks like just yet, but it’s well worth pursuing.

    ps. And echoing Wippet, perhaps the world is not as desperate to consume us old blokes’ opinions, as desperate as we think the world is to hear them.
    pps. when the AFL finally sees the light and etches a door with “AFL People, Culture & History” they could do worse than put J. Harms on the door above it.

  13. Malcolm this is a subject close to my heart for a bunch of reasons , but none more so than the simple fact it brings so much joy to so many.

    There is great joy in Footy – full stop. Joy in playing, watching, administrating, coaching, facilitating, volunteering, and just the feeling of belonging. It doesn’t matter how good or how bad you are – you can find others at roughly the same level of ability to play with and against. Your personal experience somehow creates its own universe where there are players who stand out above the rest and become legends – not just for their ability as we all know. There is a place for everyone, and this has always been true for both sexes. However, there has been a ceiling for women such that they could not expect to fulfill their potential to the extent the men could.

    Until now.

    Daddsy you are eloquent and insightful as ever – and your words tapped into this source of joy for me:
    . the thrill of seeing Erin Phillips – who was always a naturally gifted footballer first and foremost in my opinion – risk everything just to play that first season and to be rewarded beyond what she would have ever dreamed possible;
    . the realisation that the ceiling had not just been punched through but completely vapourised for those 14 year old girls who were just as passionate in playing the sport as their male peers but had no place to go with it;
    . the buzz of just being part of the 11000 at The Parade along with my parents (witnessing this for the first time) and my sister (with her partner and daughter) who, growing up with me in the 70s, at first just wanted to be mixing it with the boys, but soon wanted to continue playing something that came just as naturally for her as it did for me;
    . the sense that this isn’t just something that came up overnight, but rather was bubbling away below the surface all along and kind of blindsided us when it burst through the surface.

    Sure the skills are still developing, but that’s part of the joy too – witnessing such growth and realising that this is just the start. The game is better for it, and those involved are better for it – whether they see it now or if it takes them some time. I expect there to be mistakes made along the way, and for people to question the motivation of some. But the same is true of our Footy reality before the birth of the AFLW.

    I am blessed with having seen an earlier incarnation of women’s footy in the 80s when my sister played full forward for the Southern CD Cougars. Witnessing their first game at West Terrace I recall marvelling at the enthusiasm of the players and cringing as I could see a 3-way collision about to happen with the ball in mid flight. That was over 3 decades ago and there has been steady growth since then along the way – largely out of sight of the mainstream Footy follower. If we had waited for the continued organic growth to continue to some sort of imagined benchmark then we would undoubtedly still be waiting way past the closing window we didn’t realise we even had with watching Erin play. What a travesty it would have been not to have been able to witness that.

    Now of course we have dozens more Erins and Daisys to look forward to – not to mention those excelling in a sport that will shape itself in ways we can’t yet imagine.

    Well done everyone who made this possible – I feel very proud to be part of a country where this is even possible.

  14. It’s not up to scratch.

    The AFL felt they had to make a very quick move to compete with the WBBL.

    Women’s cricket has been a slow approach, and had to be to ensure that the standard of play was there before going ahead with the big franchises. This did not happen over night.

    The AFLW should have had more development leauges, and built up more competitions for teenage girls to play before throwing them in the deep end.

    Overall, the AFLW is a failure at this point, and nothing to do with the players.

    The fact they want to expand the competition, and to such a limited talent pool is just laughable.

    Wake up AFL!!

  15. Michael Rehn says

    It’s great that the women want to play footy, but I’m not sure that the standard at the moment really justifies the hype or the expenditure. the girls play at very much a hobby standard….I’d be disappointed to hear of them being paid at a professional level. Also I am concerned that the AFL seems to be setting itself up as some kind of social moderator promoting a whole range of issues outside of the scope of a football competition. The AFL could well be alienating supporters rather than gaining new ones with the women’s competition !!!

  16. If the aim of it is to grow the game – its working , simple as that . More participation of women playing and watching the game , just had a patient here in Sydney and her and her mates all play at club level and watch AFL men’s and women’s live and on TV . The elevated standard will come , the VFL and SANFL in the late 1800s wasn’t a great standard either ( it’s all relative) got to start somewhere

  17. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi all,
    such an interesting range of thoughts and observations, conversations and opinions. Isn’t it great it’s about women’s sport! I just watched some AFLX and it wasn’t so engaging so I tuned out. I suggest others who don’t think the women’s game is up to ‘their scratch’, do so as well. We all have the opportunity to watch, or not, be engaged and enthralled, or not.

    I do want more training and help to prevent injuries, want to hear more women’s voices on TV and radio, and see the new generation of Huntington’s and Brutons come through – the girls who are coming through the systems that are now in place.

    I think, like John, it’s more than about footy. It’s about a changing energy and conversation. And we’re having it.

    I am also hearing of women who are taking up the game of footy for the first time because they can see how much fun the women on the screen are having. Even with the injuries and mixed skills in players, I see footy players who look like me (40 years ago) and that has a profound affect. On everyone watching. On others playing. On us all. Thanks for this piece and for the honest conversation.

  18. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Super piece Book,
    I agree with Yvette. The conversations and perceptions are changing for the better.
    Participation increasing will enhance talent pool and eventually, standard will improve.
    I’d like to see coverage of local leagues during winter.
    How about a State of Origin Women’s series that could be fixtured on a Tuesday or Wednesday night?

  19. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I have deliberately not replied re each comment in that it is a complex issue with so many different angles which have been superbly outlined above as I commented my main anger is with the umpiring which involves both lack of footy nous and direction given.As I have said reasons for and against the sudden increased growth.For mine AFLX has massive potential re female footy in general great way to learn the basic skills in a less congested and safer environment also helps solve the oval problems
    in being able to play it on rectangular ovals thanks folks

  20. Perhaps the theory is get the girls involved & enjoying playing & supporting footy. Get girls playing at a young age as they see a pathway to elite level that is very achievable right now. Those girls become women, then Mothers of young boys & Girls. That next generation may not have the same outlook on football that the most recent one has had. They may see Aussie Rules as a good safe, healthy option for their sons & daughters rather than have that outlook some have had over the last 10-15 years that has seen a rise in Soccer as an option.

  21. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I wandered down to Princes Park, Caulfield one crisp July Satdy arvo last year.

    Danny Frawley was coaching a women’s team that consisted largely of school mates of our eldest daughter. Many of them were gun soccer or netball players when at school, but seemed to be relishing our native game. They won’t be put off by the standard or otherwise of the AFLW comp. They aren’t “playing AFLW”, they are playing footy, an opportunity that barely existed a decade ago.

    This huge growth may come at the expense of say, netball; so be it.

    I was lambasted on-line last year for predicting that there will be a big problem with availability of facilities and grounds. These problems generally fall to local govt to deal with. Let’s hope they are up to it.

    Some very sage comments above too.

  22. I have enjoyed reading this thread. It’s a pretty good indication of the good will that exists. It’s actually more than good will. It’s people acting on that good will. I look at what M. Dadds has outlined.

    I hope the conversation continues and we get further perspectives. Personally, I am looking for women involved in AFLW and the discourse around AFLW to help me develop my own understanding of their perspectives and understandings. I’d love to read them.

  23. Well, here goes

    First off can I acknowledge that this debate and countless others concerning women’s footy with the AFLW as the centre-piece is happening at the exact same time that the AFL is running with one of its more deplorable ideas in the AFLX. I’m staggered when I consider the juxtaposition of forensic examination of the worth and value and so on of the ALFW vs the almost cavalier acceptance of the reality TV cum era of instant gratification cum dogsbody of a thing that is AFLX. This is an example of the wild river of gender relations and times that we attempt to navigate through when engaging any and every discussions of rights. Because the question of human rights is at the heart of the rise of females playing footy.

    So Malcolm, well done on generating a thoroughly engaging discussion. Your set up has allowed a diverse and engrossing range of thoughtful contributions.

    My reason for starting my comment as I did was to emphasise that along with the lenses nominated by JTH in his comment I would suggest that our emotional core is tied heavily to our viewpoint. Certainly mine is. We attempt to logically consider the idea but our emotional core dictates our starting position and that in turn directs our logical response. Or at least that’s how I work. So maybe I should just speak for myself.

    I have essayed and commented through the last few years on women’s footy many times. My position has just grown stronger through that time. I find most of the main issues/arguments that come up pretty tedious. For example, the skill level argument? WTF I say. If we had to apply that argument footy itself, hell no endeavour anywhere would get off the ground. The Beatles didn’t wait until they were brilliant before they started playing in front of people etc is my response. I would suggest that the AFLW fan base is being (partly) built up by those who are watching because they love seeing the skills develop.

    The AFLW is the showpiece of the nascent and yet burgeoning female footy. In all its glory and rawness. As has been noted elsewhere, it is only about 31 games in! Watch and admire or switch off until it is more cooked but allow it time to grow. Give it maybe, 300 games. Meanwhile appreciate that female footy beyond the TV gaze is growing exponentially, at a far faster rate than the skills are. Is that an issue? Nuh. That’s the core of what its future will be. Players and more players. Skills and more developed skills. Then supporters follow. Then more supporters. And that’s how things form.

    So, in reflection of where is AFLW at I reckon it is at pretty much exactly where I would think it would be at. Maybe a bit further along even. Great players, emerging stars, and 250 odd females giving their all to compete at their best. And hundreds of thousands more playing at all levels and ages for the fun of it, the competitive drive, the glory and the chance that they too might one day lace up for the Dees or Crows. That’s a story that couldn’t be written even 5 years ago, let alone 20 years ago, or God forbid, 70 years ago. But it can now and it is. That’s where the AFLW is at. A beacon for rights that were up until very recently denied, discouraged and unrecognised.


  24. Pamela Sherpa says

    Thankfully the Winter Olympics are on.

  25. Yvette Wroby says

    Hello again fellow commentators. Like John said, this is a great conversation. I recommend all read Daisy Pearce’s piece in The Age today. She covers a lot of what is talked about throughout this thread. And she writes beautifully.

    So I have had time to study the form:
    Rulebook: you have opened up a great discussion. With your experience of coaching, are coaches taught any differently for the women’s game? As Daisy says, women don’t want hybrid or different forms like aflx, they just want to play what everyone else plays. Do coaches get instructed to ‘umpire the same’. I also like your idea of not comparing male and female footy. Different leagues and will always have different styles. Each state has their own tier of women’s footy, VFLW in Victoria. I put in a call this afternoon to see if they had stat’s on injuries at state levels as opposed to the ones at AFLW level. Like Daisy says in her article, the women mostly play in the winter competition for a chance to prove themselves to play at a higher level.
    JTH: I agree that the competition is good for culture and I think that’s why it has been embraced and bought forward. I know you think of things through lenses, I find myself looking through a sporting lens and I think that women’s footy is changing how we think of women and girls. Again, Daisy is more succinct.
    Peter B: loving the line ‘rising tide lifts all boats’. So hopefully this is true of skills, opportunity, and injury prevention.
    Joey D: looking at it through the fans lens. Can’t wait to see what happens this year with a VFLW Southern Saints team and an AFLW St Kilda team in 2020.
    Jeff: I agree that it will take time, and we won’t know ourselves in 10 years. But I also think, watching every game closely, I see the improvements and skills in every game get better, and in just a year it’s already improved.
    Daddsy: love your work, love the line ‘having to adjust lenses’. What happened at your Club seems amazing. ‘Gender-mutual respect’ works for me. I hope you share more of these stories in the future. Your club sounds wonderful. And go your daughter!

    Jill: I find I am viewing the women as being spectacular athletic specimens. I get sucked into footy whenever I watch, and when I saw my first women’s game in 2013 (Melbourne v Doggies) I was hooked.
    Lovely Lisa: following the women playing sports has got me off my bum, but then I sit back down and read this site and write stuff, so bum gets big again!
    Whippet: just love your daughters perspective. I have a question. What’s the female equivalent of ‘old blokes’ keeping the conversation going. I could use ‘old fart’ for myself cos the connotations of ‘old shielas’ or ‘old woman’ just don’t do it for me! I am loving hearing younger women telling me about life from their perspective.
    Dips: You have to read Daisy’s article today. In the short period since AFLW started, I can see big improvements in fitness and skills. And Daisy has had an ACL risk assessment and is learning how to protect herself, she says in article. Re feeling like the league is rushed, it’s funny, it doesn’t feel rushed to those playing it. And I think I’d prefer some poor performances every now and again than to wait another few years. Reading your words, I wondered what the state level ACL injuries were like and I will add it to the post when they get back to me.

    Dave Brown: Loved your thoughts on being culturally conditioned. Think that’s an important discussion. I remember watching a women’s game before the EJ Whitten in 2015 and the guys behind were about to be smart-arses and suddenly they shut up and were completely sucked into the game. The words literally evaporated as they watched the skills of an ‘all stars’ type game.

    Model: I love that AFLW does bring Joy. And I love the thought of a vapourised ceiling. The women’s footy world has bubbled away for decades and the joy is about it busting through the surface and being visible. Even the criticism and commentary show that we are discussion footy and discussing women’s footy, and being visible. It’s huge. I agree that knowing women who played in the past is a huge difference. I loved the point that if we’d waited, we wouldn’t have had an Erin Phillips.

    Al: I wonder what your ‘scratch’ is. And as I said earlier in a comment, if it’s not your cuppa, you are free to wait until it is an acceptable ‘scratch’.
    Michael: just thinking that another way to think about the AFLW is that the AFL may have gained more supporters and lost some, but that’s usual with any revolution.
    Joel: the aim is to grow the game and that was ticked off last year.

    To all: how can we not love that there is something here in the AFLW that has bought ‘old blokes’ and young, and women and girls, to this site to discuss, analyze, agree and disagree about sports. I find each week that I look forward to see the weekend and what will evolve. What will be the story? Who will win? Who will improve the most?

    Thank you all for your generous contributions. Keep writing and reading. From this ‘old fart’.

  26. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Rick and Pamela,
    Rick, love your passion and agree wholeheartedly. About to watch AFLX a second time to see my Saints boys, but what I’m really waiting for is a meaningful competition starting with the doggies v crows tomorrow afternoon. There is vague interest versus passion and excitement.

    Pamela, enjoy the Olympics. I haven’t even looked. I am so preoccupied by the footy and all the chat. That we are all in a position to follow our passions (as observers and athletes and writers) is what our lucky life is all about.

    Go Saints and go AFLW! (Just haven’t got that competitive tribalism yet Dips. Maybe when the Saints have a team.

  27. Nigel Beneke says

    The AFWL is so focused on being professional and corporate eg. An Adelaide footballer gets interviewed at the airport and is asked about the team only having 8 scoring shots in 2 games.
    The response was,we will look at our systems,the issue with this it’s the cart not before the horse, the horse is still in the stable.
    They are trying to implement set ups and defence more applicable for 18 yr olds,the tackling is good but anyone willing to tackle will be a good tackler.
    The big issue is skill which at best is u/14 Sanfl development squad standard.
    I coached 10 years at North in development squads and have seen about 16 go onto AFL lists.
    Their skills are 4/5 years behind their systems ,you can’t set up or read the play if you can’t kick a drop punt reasonably accurate over 20-35 m or handball either reflex or reward the runner.
    By not focusing on skill they are prolonging the problem,players retiring will go on to coach with no appreciation of the skill needed to stand up under good pressure and so it will go on until the girls who have been taught skill first rather than systems and false bravado come on line.

  28. Gavin Lauder says

    Malcolm spot on in regards the AFL fast tracking women’s football. I would of thought let it evolve in grass roots clubs first. Build up a skills base over a number of years so the talent pool is more. And then the grass roots clubs can benefit financially from this for awhile. But atm any girls with above average skills go straight to league clubs.

  29. Colin Rowston says

    It is here to stay whether you like it or not. Women’s footy is booming at local level, triple the amount of teams in last 3 years. Big crowds at AFLW games so interest is there. Huge increases in participation at all levels. One of the best things ever to happen to footy!

  30. If any aspect of any performance from any female of any age in any field of endeavour can bring about the equality of the sexes, then that’s OK with me!

  31. Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood says

    I thing I see far far far more positives than negatives re AFLX and can see it becoming a huge part of females footy easier to get access to a hockey or soccer pitch and a chance to learn and practice the skills of the game.I love the passion on this thread and I agree wholeheartedly with Nigel skills are vital and Nigel explains it perfectly ( Colin Rowston is v heavily involved in sa footy ) thanks folks

  32. It’s truly a great article. I’d not considered many of your points. I grew up in a male dominated environment & I’m sure my father would be very negatively opinionated of women in the AFLW!
    It’s awesome for the AFL & for women but I have very mixed emotions on some of the issues.

  33. Good observation mate!

    As the top competition is established now, more girls start playing footy at young ages so the cons number one and two will improve in the future. More top level players will enter the AFLW.

    We need to be patient for a while.

    I enjoy watching AFLW.



  34. Kasey Symons says

    How wonderful that we have had so many people come together here on this platform to have a robust, honest, respectful and passionate conversation about women’s football.

    It was only a few, short years ago that women’s football barely got a mention and now, thanks to outlets like The Footy Almanac, we have a great group of writers and fans who are continually bringing women to the front of the conversation. As a young (ish) woman who is passionate about women in sport – it’s heartwarming to see people taking the time to discuss the issues in the game, the amazing things that have been achieved and how to keep leveraging the competition to be a powerhouse in the future in such a collaborative way.

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and considerations – Rulebook, you might need to write a follow up piece incorporating this massive response!

    Enjoy the footy this weekend everyone!

  35. OK, my 2 bits…

    Unfortunately women’s footy has been compelled to jump on the gravy train as a fast tracked product that fails to live up to the hype. Seriously, it’s local under 16s standard. But I don’t blame them for taking on the challenge, who would pass up the opportunity? The AFL have also been opportunistic in this regard yet they offer only surface level support. It’s a leap of faith and until the standard approaches a professional level – and players across the board are more than just the most athletic talent available – AFLW will be subject to fair criticism as an underwhelming competition that does not warrant the coverage it is getting. And the damage done to ‘the brand’ in the meantime, in this haste for recognition and growth, may take considerable time to repair.

  36. Phillip casburn says

    A good analysis Malcolm
    the AFLW will help increase the participants especially for women
    AFLX & an AFL reserves will do little to increase participants .
    To fixture the AFLX around AFLW is bizarre as well
    I think the AFL have to work out what they want to focus on with their money

  37. Paul Minogue says

    1. A lot of the criticism of AFLW seems based on what it is not, rather than what it is.
    2. The game will evolve and develop. Everyone needs to accept that, and the AFL needs to promote it and support it properly. I agree with comments that having AFLX on at the same time is not helpful.
    3. AFLW creates a pathway for young players to stay with the game, and girls and young women to take up the game, when they might otherwise be lost to other sports.

  38. Steve Symonds says

    Malcolm, good write up about The AFLW. I pretty much agree with all your points. It is very much in its early stages & should be viewed & treated as just that & not compared to male or other level gamed. It is what it is. The best female players. Already in 12 months I’ve seen the standard improve greatly. I think in another 12 months the level will have improved where it will be very unlikely a player will be able to come from another sport & play straight away. They will have to spend a season or 2 learning their craft at local level.

    Like you my major current concern is not the game itself but the rapid expansion. We currently do not have the infrastructure or people in place at club & local level to handle it. Not enough, changerooms, not enough ovals, not enough umpires & coaches, not enough trainers & volunteers.
    Yes it may be able generate money through grants & sponsorship etc but its not creating more people involvement outside of the players. Currently the same people are doing it all which is unsustainable.

  39. Crikey Rulebook, you’ve created an epic thread.

    Thanks for all the comments from everyone. Really interesting.

    All the positives about AFLW have been worth re-stating. For me they continue to outweigh anything else. But I think the view implicit in some of the more cautionary comments is also worth stating: the AFL and media partners have created massive expectations. JD and Nigel’s observations might well be seen as observations of standards but I see them more as critique of how AFLW was set up.

  40. I love women’s footy.
    The determination and hardness of the players is thrilling.
    I will be the first to say that the skill levels can be disappointing at times.

    However, AFLW and AFL mens are two different sports. In the same way that mens and womens tennis are two different sports.
    Just think of this: there is a generation of girls now playing in U/10 leagues who will graduate to AFLW in 8 – 10 years’ time. They will have grown up playing in proper, organised female comps. The transition to the elite level will be more seamless.. Oh, how brilliant this game will be then.

  41. Rick Harley says

    I am with Rulebook on this
    None of the current adverse comments will be made in 20 years
    I have watched heaps of lower grade amateur games and enjoyed every minute of them .
    It would be a harsh critic indeed to say yesterday’s game against the Bulldogs was not good entertainment

  42. David Butler says

    Interesting piece Rulebook. Coming late to the debate most of my thoughts have already been covered by others. What has been ignored I think is the strategic move of marketing an Aussie Rules competition against soccer. The A League moved to a summer competition to get some free air away from the dominant Aussie Rules and rugby codes but now faces competition for spectators, TV audiences and sponsors from Big Bash and Women’s AFL. As a result their crowds and TV ratings have plummeted this year. Similarly I think the AFLX will be extended to schools with small numbers and small playing fields to take back the kids playing soccer simply because it is logistically so much easier to organize in those environments. With respect to the AFLW I agree with everyone else really; endeavour, courage and commitment fantastic but skills very poor. I think we all take the skills of the game for granted now because they are so good. An AFL player who grabs a mark at full stretch in front of the eyes with an opponent a metre or two behind him is credited with an ‘uncontested mark’. The player who hit him lace-out from 40 metres away in traffic receives no praise other than to avoid a ‘clanger’ attributed to his stats! Watching talented athletes from other sports struggle so much with ‘basic’ skills makes us appreciate better just how difficult our game is to play. I grew up with a younger sister who was a way better footballer than me and most of my friends in street contests but who simply never had the opportunity to pull on a jumper in an organized match because of the times. How wonderful that young girls now have the opportunity to play the game they love so much. Well done AFL and let’s all be patient with the quality.

  43. Bob Bradley says

    .One small P.S. here though – my wonderful physio has a daughter who wrote a letter to all the clubs in the Victor Harbour comp a year or so ago to see who was interested in getting a comp up and running. In a matter of months there were senior and junior comps for women and 100-odd membership increases at each club. This is the benefit to ‘grass roots Footy’ on one hand, and an indicator to the sheer force we are dealing with here. Bring it on!

  44. Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood says

    Thanks folks and some fantastic points,Steve making the worrying point re yes explosion in numbers yet not the infrastructure to go with it and spot on there will be burn out with way to few doing way way to much ( Steve is from a SA perspective and is a very highly respected coach of the Redlegs women’s side
    is it any better in other parts of the country ? ) Bob Bradley explains the huge growth perfectly.
    David Harry Butler is spot on re us taking the incredible skills of Afl footy for granted a hell of a lot of the time while I totally agree with the general sentiments that we have to be patient and wait for the girls playing juniors to come thru whether the average punter is going to be patient enough is a huge concern.
    I have no doubt what so ever the game is not ready for further expansion at AFLW yet but the afl to display common sense and slow down mmmm wait and see thanks folks the courteous and well thought out thread in general has been a pleasure to read thank you

  45. Scott Deverson says

    As a parent of a 12 yr old Female Footballer – this will be her 4th season, I am thrilled with the exposure of AFLW. My daughter has a pathway now that previously did not exist. She still plays ‘boys’ footy (the only female in the Senior Primary school zone in 2017) but LOVES playing with her Female Club & her Female Club mates. Those who criticise the Women’s Game as “substandard” or “boring” are missing the point entirely. Whilst I am a little cynical re: The AFL’s intent (personally I think this is a direct ‘money grab’ to cater to an ‘under tapped’ 50% of their market for the AFL) I am happy to support it because it provides MY child with Female Role Models & allows her to strive for ‘higher honours’ that previously ceased @ 13 yrs old. My daughter is more confident, self assured & determined as a result of her involvement in Australian Rules Football & that ABOVE ALL else, is the most positive thing about the AFLW & its impact on young girls.

  46. DanielleSpicer says

    Hi all, sorry I am late to this one.
    I am a little extreme in my love for the AFLW. Since its inception, I have probably missed two of the games. I record them and rewatch them when I can, and have personally attended two.
    I became involved with womens footy around 12 years ago, largely due to being new in Melbourne and needing a social life. Since then, I have goal umpired close to 250 games, time kept for a dozen, ran a canteen for two years, even played 5 games blah blah blah, I have been around the womens footy culture quite a bit and I LOVE this sport.
    I have seen players that would have won a Brownlow should they have been a different gender (Michelle Dench comes to mind). Actually Denchy is a great example of why we need a professional league, as she had to retire from football to focus on her paid career, and the football community is that much poorer for not having the opportunity to see her light up the footy field.
    I have seen girls show all of the things we love about football. Determination, toughness, resilience and heart, Ive seen women smash their faces and be disappointed if it meant they couldn’t play the following week.
    I watched my team go undefeated for an entire season, only to lose consecutive finals for no reward.
    I have seen players take a game on and win it off their own boot. I have seen players find their form for the first time half way through a game and absolutely smash it apart. I have sat in the rooms after losing a grand final and felt that empty gut wrenching feeling, as we discuss certain plays that could have gone this way, and if only the ball had bounced that way.
    Some of the games had high scores over 100. Some of the games had scores that barely cracked double digits.
    For me its each and every individual play which makes up the grand theatrical spectacle, and I love to ride every single bump with them.
    They live footy every bit as much as any male footballer I have met.
    To hear people complaining that the games aren’t high scoring enough, to me just sounds hollow.
    Womens football has been around for a long time and it is the most exciting thing that has happened in my world for a long time, that they are finally able to go professional. That I can finally watch them on TV with the same bright colours that I get to watch the boys.
    Hell, I still have the newspaper which announced Peta Searle was appointed a coach at Port Melbourne.
    This AFLW is not trivial stuff. I don’t take it lightly, and very much look forward to when the general consensus is the same.

  47. Me again,

    It is worth bearing in mind that male participation on Aussie Rules has been declining and in 2017 female participation made up 30% of footy participation (that’s registered players) If that trend continues then at some point in the next ten years there will be more females than males playing Aussie Rules! Brilliant.

    For many comments in this thread (especially the last few) you can piece together the oral history of women’s footy across Australia, particularly the last 5 to 10 years. I for one can’t get enough of that! That represents a story of a substantial growth with little precedence. Over that time, whether it is the AFL, State, Local Comps and Clubs, as well as local government authorities with responsibility for local amenities there was little awareness, interest or support for the gradual and sustained growth in female footy participation.

    Like many on this thread I have first hand experience of this dichotomy. It is staggering to look back over the last five years to appreciate that in that short time females have taken to playing the game in numbers almost unimaginable. (That does not deny the thousands that have played footy through the last 100 years and their leadership and fingerprints on where we are today).

    I would venture to say it is the thousands of male football administrators (from AFL to local club) who are only now waking up to the numbers, interest, skills and smarts of women’s footy.

    The game is here already. The AFL hardly had a choice on going slower or whatever in introducing a national comp. There was such a drive happening at the grass-roots level. Also, bear in mind, the AFLW is merely a window into where women’s footy is at. The AFLW is played prior to the winter season so it does not interfere with state and local leagues so they can continue to thrive. At some point in the next ten years there will be a national AFLW played from April through to September.

    In Victoria the Women’s footy premier division has been shaping into a direct correlation with the VFL teams. (I am not endorsing the manner in which the VFL has administrated this development, merely noting it as a direct connection to the overarching growth and development of female footy). That will continue. At a local level, I have been involved with junior footy through the Yarra Junior Football League. I don’t know if it is a progressive league or a run of the mill league. I can state that by 2014 the YJFL was working closely with all its clubs to help them build their Girl’s teams from U12s to Colts. In 2017 the YJFL had more than 10 competitions and 29 clubs with one or more teams competing. Fitzroy FC has 8 girls footy teams for example. This has all been built since 2012. (Notwithstanding 100 years of female footy history).

    Female footy is either going to continue to grow at a rate, plateau or shrink. The point I have made here is that its growth has been remarkable, without or with little assistance from footy’s administrators. That it now has a national and mediated presence is fantastic and will definitely help with sustaining its growth. In fact that is why it should continue.

    What it is lacking is marketing. Even the filming of the game could be improved to see a stack more close-ups, slo-mos, speeded up action. Think of the goals and tackles on the weekend. Imagine if they were beefed up with slow-mo, then speeded up, with a killer music track and a jarring edit of five to ten different players in high octane action! That’s what even the crappiest AFLM game highlights gets every week (in fact at the end of of every quarter!).

    Appreciate that the skills etc are developing and have been for the past half a decade. This year’s AFLW is a better comp than last year. Next year will again be better. The AFL and Ch7 need to highlight the thrills and spills 1000 times better than they are presently. The development of the game, the players and their skills is fine.


  48. Book,all I can say is that 5 years ago my daughters would never have entertained football as a sport and this year they are both playing. The AFLW has normalised football as an option for girls and getting gengagement and numbers is the first step. Inevitibly the skills, quality, spectacle etc will improve with more time and enhanced professionalism, (and a season that allows year round commitment to the game). AFLW will fast-track this. The other point I would make about the (non)- specitacle is ther 16 aside rule. the idea was to create a faster running game but the rule makers forgot that women are really only kicking the ball 50-60% the distance of the male players and running 10-15% slower. This means the oval plays at around 250m long in adjusted terms and yet there are 2 fewer players than men’s football. Its counter-intuitive but to improve the spectacle women’s football needs MORE players on the field, not fewer. Hopefully they will work this out soon.

  49. I am happy for it to stay, but at the moment I am not interested, I may be in the future. However, of course it should stay, but I can’t pretend I am interested. The fact that I am not interested does not make me a misogynistic sexist pig, It simply means that , I prefer to watch other things. and not AFLX either..

  50. Rulebook, you CHAMPION!!!

  51. bring back the torp says

    Great comments from Rulebook, & most contributors here. I particularly enjoyed those of Smokie, David Butler, Bob Bradley, Scott Deverson, & Rick Kane (2nd incarnation -but the AFLW will always be played in the off-season, to give it clear air from the AFL; for strategic reasons; to provide the AFL with 52 week pa media coverage; & to compete better against other codes).

    One should NEVER compare female sport to male sport -men are stronger, faster, jump higher etc. Enjoy women’s sport simply in its own framework eg professional female tennis. I, & many others, sometimes find female tennis MORE entertaining (minus grunting!) than the men’s eg longer rallies. We should not care that a female tennis player probably would never get to 40 all against a male prof.
    Women’s AF should only be directly compared to other women’s sports re the spectacle, level of entertainment etc. The AFLW is very worthy in its own right -but its OK if some don’t like it (or any other sport).

    On the issue of whether the AFL should have waited for State Leagues to become sufficiently skilful before introducing the AFLW, the answer is clearly NO. It is ONLY the prestige, profile, AFL media presence, & AFL-affiliated Clubs of an AFLW COMP. that has caused the HUGE EXPLOSION of GR female nos.

    “Darebin V. Diamond Creek”, or Vic. v. WA etc., would never have “broken through” with the wider public in general, & female players in particular. There would never have been the deluge of female players we are witnessing now, without the creation first of the AFLW. You have to sell the sizzle, as well as the sausage! The AFLW is providing the big, spluttering, deliciousy smelling sizzle! The sausage is the fun, challenge, enticing complex skill set & excitement that females experience playing AF.

    With such huge & GROWING nos. of females playing, sheer weight of nos. means the AFLW will be attracting many very skilled athletes to AF. C.Kurdas, AFL Vic. manager said, on the Outer Sanctum Radio 774 Feb. 10 broadcast, that the top 18 U18 females to be drafted later in 2018 will be the most skilled young group that has ever played AF.
    Those currently in the AFLW will also improve each year, as they are receiving prof. training/ nutrition / fitness /recovery advice etc. The AVERAGE AFLW skill levels will increase each year, even with the addition of GFC & NM/Tas. in 2019. Only a prof. AFL Club environment can provide this.

    AFLW games have nearly all been very entertaining, fiercely fought contests. As games are played for c. 60% of the time of AFL games (basically 15 minute qtrs), & women cant kick as far as men, & games are often played in strong heat (which obviously increases sweating – reduces skills/concentration etc.), it is inevitable goal scoring will be much reduced. Don’t judge the AFLW adversely on this criteria.

    Unfortunately, where the AFLW can be criticised fairly is for the heavy CONGESTION – causing excessive scrappy play/stoppages/ball-ups etc. This congestion DIRECTLY cause poor skill execution, & can sometimes cause the game to be a poor spectacle eg 2nd half of Coll. v. Carlton 2018, 1st half of Carlton v. Brisbane 2018 (Both Princes park games). Most AFLW players have good skills -but this congestion is preventing them from displaying their skills as often as we would like.

    Unfortunately, it is the AFLW coaches who have chosen deliberately, & improperly, negative tactics & game styles to restrict scoring eg constant flooding, having extra nos. in their defensive 50 mtr arc when the opposing team is 40-70 mtrs from goal. They, IMO, are sabotaging the appeal of the AFLW. The AFLW “damage” has been self-inflicted by the coaches.

    The AFL Commission in 2014 adopted a Charter Of The Game for the AFL LOTG Rulemakers. This Charter, amongst other things, said AF should ideally feature a free flowing, high scoring game style -its what fans love about AF.
    When AFL Clubs lobbied to have an AFLW team, they gave an undertaking to PROMOTE female GR AF, & to promote the AFLW. By their flooding tactics, AFLW coaches have abrogated their responsibilities to the AFLW.
    S. Hocking was entirely correct in issuing his memo after the Coll. v. Carlton “2nd half shocker” (no goals kicked, both sides massive flooding) that at the start of centre bounces, players should be spread out in a 5-6-5 formation, & to leave 15 mtrs clear-to-goal in a forward line ball up.
    (Apparently, this weekend, some clubs were still not always observing this!).

    My only other concerns with the AFLW were :-
    . too many games starting before 5 pm. Its often too hot in summer in Aust. to properly play AF during the day, with maximum skill execution.
    . occasional extremely rough tackles (illegal sling tackles?).
    . can ACL/PCL injuries be minimised?
    . TV broadcasts should be from the Outer (set up scaffolding/covers for cameras & commentators, as the VFA did in the 70’s) which is usually more sparsely occupied -& panning across to the “packed & animated” grand stand side of the ground. This presents a far more exciting spectacle for TV viewers at home. “Sell the sizzle!”.
    The VFA found that its Ratings AND crowds improved after it adopted this broadcasting practice.
    ( A similar broadcasting principle was implemented for the 2018 W League soccer GF, several 2017 RLWC female RL games, & the 2017 FFA Cup soccer GF).

  52. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Scott and Corey very well put as parents,I have deliberately not replied as often in the comments section as it’s opinion and to just allow the thread to continue to evolve,Rick and Danielle love your passion.Paul yep that is fine thanks Old Dog
    Bring back the toro you have completely nailed it ! Thanks folks

  53. Luke Reynolds says

    Rulebook, very well thought out piece. Totally agree with your thoughts on injuries due to players not growing up on the game, as well as the competition expanding too quickly.
    Due to my cricket commitments this time of year, I struggle to watch much AFLW.
    All I’ve seen are the three Collingwood games. The Round 1 game against Carlton was a horrible game to watch. Round two in Perth was better. And I thought Sunday’s game against GWS was of quite a good standard. It will get better the more they play. Of course, the season is too short. The elite level will only improve by the best players playing at the elite level. Any player who plays a short season of AFLW won’t get better by playing back at State League level.
    Playing at this time of year, with the heat and hard grounds, doesn’t help with the standard. Australian Rules is a Winter sport. Once the competition is more established I’d like to see it be more of a Winter comp. Maybe the AFLW could own Thursday nights? Given the 2 hour timespan of an AFLW game, a 4.30pm Friday game, as many are finishing work, could lead into the 6.30 news and a 7.10 AFL game for the TV broadcaster? I’m a big believer in playing footy in footy season. Don’t want to watch footy 52 weeks a year.
    Very good point by Dips about tribalism. Collingwood playing at the Olympic Park Oval, a soulless venue with next to no seating, does nothing for the competition. A Collingwood v Carlton AFLW game at Victoria Park would be magnificent. The Crows have got it right by playing at Norwood. As have Carlton at Princes Park and the Bulldogs at the Whitten Oval.
    Look forward to seeing the AFLW evolve. Cricket is the sport that already has elite Women’s comps. The standard of the WBBL and the NWCL is fantastic, and played to the same rules as the men. Think that’s important for the AFLW, women want to play the same game in their own style, not a modified rules version.

  54. Mark Ducker says

    Seriously- rather watch the u’8 s play than this AFLW crap. It’s a joke this is on TV. Political correctness at it’s best from the lefties yet again. But if I don’t agree with these left morons – Of course these brainless morons pull out the sexist card crap as can’t argue on merits just name calling.. No I’m a realist with a brain and won’t be socialistically bullied to think like the minority’ lefties. Spend money on the girls leagues grassroots so in 20 years it can justify & be worth watching on TV. You can’t do this PROPERLY overnight – get it off the TV after this year and do it properly or this will fail within 5 years. I would love this to work but management is not building this correctly for longevity & only on greed IMO

  55. Mark – Thousands of women and girls have been trying to improve their skills and the strength of leagues for decades. Don’t you reckon they’ve been asking for money and facilities only to have it fall on deaf ears? Unfortunately out of sight, out of mind has been the way for far too long. When I started high school our girls were Victorian country schoolgirl champions…how many of them do you reckon had a chance to go on and play after that? I’ll give you the hot tip, it’s fewer than one.

    A good point was made earlier about the “sizzle” along with the “sausage.” Top down has had a significant effect so far & will continue to do so. In the meantime, nobody requires you to watch channel 73 in the men’s preseason. I’m sure you can find something else to keep you occupied in the next 20 years you believe it will take to get up to your standard.

  56. Mark Ducker says

    Jarrod – you are entitled to your opinion. Read my piece again . Not sure your age but when I was at high school the game was broke. Serious money has been in the game only relatively recently – hence my point. Spend this money at grassroots girls schools / leagues not pretending we have an elite comp . Like in business, a long term business is built correctly with correct foundations from start . That’s my point – I want it to work. I agree the game needs this to work but IMO going about the business model the wrong way. What would I know – only been in business for 26 years Jarrod.

  57. bring back the torp says

    You are certainly correct that all should be played at the still excellent & legendary Vic. Park (covered stands, tiers/good sight lines etc, capacity c.15,000). Oly. Park has very poor sight lines (since it does not have proper tiers), virtually no shelter & seating, & it significantly diminishes the potential of the AFLW. Coll FC has, thus, failed to properly promote the AFLW -which is a condition of all AFL Clubs that seek an AFLW licence. Vic. Park games would probably attract an EXTRA 5-8,000 crowd.

    # Mark
    It is incorrect & insulting to compare the AFLW to U8’s; & call it “crap”.

    There are MANY skilled AFLW players: A. Newman last Round, with her 3 bounces at full pace, then kicking a swerving goal, deliberately with the outside of her boot, was such quality it could win an AFL Goal Of The Year!
    Several AFLW players have taken hangars.
    Weutchsner’s NP foot reverse banana goal from a very tight angle.
    Many other examples. Admittedly, the bottom 5 players’ skills are not as good -but are certainly adequate, & are still improving.

    Apart from the 2018 Coll. v. Carlton 2nd half, & Carlton v. Brisbane 1st half games, which were both extremely poor examples of AF, ALL the other games have generally been enjoyable & entertaining to watch, & were fiercely fought contests. Excellent (for female sport) crowds are attending. Both of these two Carlton games were, unfortunately, on prime time FTA -which may have unfairly caused increased levels of disapproval for the AFLW.
    Some games have been adversely affected by heavy rain, sodden grounds etc., & 30 degrees+ heat/high humidity.
    Some AFL games are ALSO sometimes congested/scrappy low scoring shockers.

    Yes, some people are pursuing PC & social engineering agendas. I suspect it is only a minority of supporters of female AF that are ACTIVELY pushing these things. Don’t conflate support for female AF & the success of the AFLW with automatic support of these agendas.
    There are many & varied reasons why players & other people support female AF. IMO, females play primarily for the fun of playing AF, the physicality/tackling/courage, & they love kicking the ball from the hand.

    In B. Lenkic’s & Ass. Prof. R.Hess’ book 2016 “Play On”, pg 208, they quoted Rachel Paterson (female AF player & Rhodes Scholar, who established female AF at Oxford), who presciently said:-
    “I love the sport itself, the intensity, the challenge, the physical side of it, and how different it is to most other sports. I also love the team atmosphere, on and off the field. There’s something special about putting your body on the line for your team mates. Taking hits and bumps and shepherding your team mates so they don’t get taken out”.
    Similar themes have been noted recently by a Gold Coast Bond Uni. female AF player. She has interviewed female Qld .adult players (as part of her BU MA) on reasons women want to play the rough game of AF.

    In my comments above, I have outlined why I am certain that it is ONLY the creation of the AFLW (AND direct AFL affiliation & Club support) that is creating the much needed avalanche of females (including many who are very athletic, & skilled in other sports) wanting to play AF. The AFLW is the essential PREREQUISITE for the successful establishment of this critical mass of skilled athletes.

    Historically, since 1919, females were banned/discouraged/mocked for playing AF. Only in 2004, after VCAT court action, were teenage girls aged 12+ allowed to continue to play in teenage comps.
    In 2003, the WAWFL only had 4 teams -some thought it might fold; nos. in Youth Girls’ Club comps were also very poor until recently.
    The SAWFL (& female Youth AF there) was also in a dire situation, up until c.2015.
    In 2007, the VWFL “exploded” (sarcasm) to ONLY 27 teams.
    Female adult & jnr club comp. AF was, therefore, progressing at snails’ pace, until recently. The AFLW was the much needed circuit breaker.

    The AFL must start to devote considerable resources to promoting female AF -as “compensation” for its previous inept & desultory efforts. The AFL investment now in female AF (less than $5,000,000 net pa?), cf its revenues of c.$$800,000,000+pa, is miniscule. Female AF is a strategic, long term investment -it should receive “overs”.

  58. Very good article/topic/debate, Rulebook! I wanted to make the following points:

    *My biggest frustration is that it appears that the women’s game is trying to compete on the same terms as the men’s game. Men have been playing footy at the highest level for over 150 years, it is unwise and unfair to thrust the women’s game to be (trying to) compete onn the same level as their male counterparts from day one.
    *That the playing field be shortened for women’s matches. Perhaps a 40-metre arc instead of 50?
    *9 points for each goal kicked outside the 40-metre arc?
    *Last touch over the boundary line results in a free kick to the opposition
    *Women to play the AFLX format during the bye round during the men’s season
    *More women’s finals games (i.e. Semi finals, Preliminary and the Grand Final)
    *Fox Footy to share at least 1 women’s game per week with Channel Seven

    The men’s game has progressed in leaps and bounds due to the quality of the game increasing expotentially over recent decades. If further innovations can be made to the women’s format, it can captilise on the pre-season time slot and free admission to spark further interest in the game. Time will tell.

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