An Open Letter to the AFLW Powers That Be

Dear AFLW Powers That Be,


When AFLW was introduced last year, it started a joyous celebration of women and girls who would get a chance to play the game they loved on a professional level. With Season 2 just finished, we are now looking down the barrel of a reassessment of all things AFLW.


With CEO Gill talking about conferences an option, and changes in rules and zoning, I would like to add my two bits as a AFLW member and a fan who has followed this league closely.


And I am a little worried.


1. Please don’t try and make AFLW all things to everyone. It was set up to allow women to be able to play Aussie Rules in a professional capacity, and even though we are waiting for the talent to continue to flow through the lower leagues, there is a danger of changing the very nature of the game the women and girls want to play.


2. Women don’t want to play AFLX, and when this is mentioned in the same breath as a review of the season with players, coaches and main stakeholders, it has me concerned that the AFL administration want to change the game the women (and fans) signed up for.


3. Please invite a fan representative to discussions, or at last ask the fans who have attended the game for their input. We are fans of the game of Aussie Rules, not some new version of the game. We want to watch the women play with 18 a side, longer quarters, and longer rounds so that there is natural improvement as the season goes on. This current 7 rounds of footy mean by the time the women are in a good routine and fitness and skills have improved, the season is over. Just look at how good Collingwood were in Round 7. A complete turn-around.


4.  Please include administrators that have kept the women’s footy going for the last 20 years.It is off the back of their commitment to women playing that you have the players and coaches and administrators in your corridors. Make sure that they are recognised for what they have contributed in the past, but also bring them in as advisors at this point.  You are not starting a league from scratch.  You are taking players who have been developed by Clubs who must have a voice in future discussions.


5. Finally, please please please don’t use the AFLW to experiment with new rules/guidelines/structures etc. If you want something to change in the game, try experimenting with the males first.The women have worked so hard just to be able to participate and should not be made the guinea pigs for changes to Aussie Rules.  This goes for the fans too. The fans have turned out in some of the worst conditions – rain, hail, lightning, flooding, heat, poor facilities and so forth. We want to watch women’s footy grow and develop.  Not be the shiny new experiment.



Thank you for your time,


Yvette Wroby




The mighty women of the West. The 2018 AFLW Premiers, The Western Bulldogs.

About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.


  1. Carole Fabian says

    Here hear, Yvette! Wise words indeed. Let’s hope they are heard and considered properly.

  2. Carole Fabian says

    Sorry for misspelling one of the ‘here/hears’ – I wasn’t sure which one was right, so used one of each, ha ha ha!

  3. Jan Courtin says

    Who have you sent it to Yvette?
    Keep up the good work!

  4. Dave Brown says

    Well said, Yvette! Sadly, this seems to me to be entirely about increasing the number of ad breaks to make the game more attractive to broadcasters. The game itself goes out the window when compared to its capacity to generate revenue.

  5. A great (dare I say it!) memo to those who would treat the league as a novelty, laboratory or after-thought.

    The powers that be need to take a long-term approach… including locking in Grand Final venues before the season begins, not the week before the game.

    They must be willing to allow the game the time to develop without the knee-jerk reaction to ‘low’ scores (which don’t bother fans who come for a contest) or ‘congestion’ (which is not isolated to women’s footy). As you say, more involvement in league leadership of people who understand where women’s footy has come from and where it will naturally progress without constant rule tinkering is vital.

  6. Not sure if this is strictly the most relevant post to add this comment to, but there’s been some interesting news about the Australian Open – 9 has poached the rights from 7 from 2020 onwards. It remains to be seen what the machinations will be, but this conveniently removes the issue of AFLW running into the tennis coverage for 7, if the season starts earlier in the year with the new teams.

  7. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi all I have sent this as an email to Steve Hocking, Nicole Livingstone and Josh Vanderloo. It is interesting about the tennis. Thanks for your comments too. AFL emails are like this… [email protected]. So share your thoughts with headquarters. The other thing I have done is join the AFL Fans Association.

    The AFL are helping me on my journey to grumpiness!

  8. Yvette Wroby says

    And joined as an Footy Almanac member!

  9. Earl O'Neill says

    Five good points, Yvette, well writ. Here’s to your letter receiving the attention it deserves (tho I wouldn’t bet the farm on it).

  10. Yvette Wroby says
  11. Yvette Wroby says
  12. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great work Yvette. Write from the heart. I hope someone over there listens and takes your concerns seriously. I hope.

  13. E.regnans says

    Good on you, Yvette.

    All of this top-down management from AFL House has me wondering about the viability of a rival league.
    The AFL ain’t Australian Football.

  14. Luke Reynolds says

    Great points Yvette, in total agreeance with you.
    Ridiculous that changing rules for the AFLW competition is even being considered. Women play the same rules as the men in cricket, soccer, rugby union and many, many other sports. Why should Australian Rules be any different?

  15. Well said Yvette.

    Gender equalisation is absolutely needed in Australian Rules Football League. I want AFL to explain Katie Brennan’s suspension and change the rule so that no such an issue happens again.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  16. bring back the torp says

    Hi Yvette

    Thanks for your excellent writing on the 2018 AFLW season, & other contributions to the AFLW.

    The Sept. 2016 stand alone female match between Footscray v. Melb., peaking at over 1,000,000 Ratings, was almost universally acclaimed as a great spectacle- fairly free flowing, good skills on display, many fine goals kicked. In other words, almost “champagne football”. The game was so good, the praise for it so strong, the AFL decided to bring forward the AFLW to 2017 (2020 was the original planned starting date).

    Funny that this expression-“champagne football”- was once heard regularly re VFL/AFL matches from the 70’s until c.14 years ago. But rarely now…WHY?

    1) Since that very memorable & historic 2016 game, do you think AFLW coaches have made any significant changes to their AFLW coaching philosophy? If so, what changes -& how has it impacted the AFLW?

    2) It’s well known that females have a biological propensity for serious knee injuries in the AFLW.
    What is your view on the current frequency and severity of tackling in the AFLW?
    And what effect might this frequenc/severity have on the likelihood of females suffering serious knee injuries?

    3) I assume you would like to see the AFLW become a competition that allows women to become full time, well paid players- if they so desire to be full timers.
    On the crucial issue of lucrative TV Rights (which are ESSENTIAL if the AFLW is to prosper as a full time comp.), what style of play do you think broadcasters want to see before they would be willing to pay “top” $ for the AFLW?

    4) Ratings for the AFLW have had a very disturbing fall in 2018 (but c.6500 crowd average: arguably best in the world for female stand alone, non-international H & A comp.). Why?

    5) The 2018 FTA nationally televised/ very high profile Rnd. 1 Carlton v. Coll. game had no goals kicked in the 2nd half. What effect, if any, do you think this might have had on the general perceptions of the AFLW on the AVERAGE AFL follower?

    6) As part of the Conditions of being granted AFLW Licences, the Clubs agreed to a responsibility to ensure they STRONGLY PROMOTED the AFLW. Re Ratings & crowds, I believe the Clubs could have promoted the AFLW FAR better.
    Your views?

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