Round 15 – Comment: Fixing a glaring problem

I have been despondent over the last fifteen weeks or so:  the AFLW is over for another year, quite a few female stars have gone, and the overwhelming maleness of the AFLM is thoroughly exhausting.


It’s mostly the commentary on the AFLM that is killing me.  Certainly, for some of the matches we have women.  But, for example, in the Bulldogs v Cats game on 29 June:  nary a woman to be seen.


This got me thinking about how we can change the culture, so all of this is attractive to both men and women.  Up until probably a couple of years ago, it didn’t occur to people at the top of the AFL tree that women (and smart thinking men – of whom I know many) might want to see something that was more inclusive.


The full-on male commentary and male interviewees on 29 June highlights how far we have to go to make this game a diverse and inclusive arrangement.


Don’t get me wrong:  the game was exciting.  Especially near half time when one of the (male – that’s all we had) commentators noted that Geelong didn’t have its full complement of interchange players on the bench.  I realised that not only am I miserable about the exclusion of women, but I am also bemused about how developments in the game have buggered up its free-flowing nature.


I’ll address the second problem first:  three or four players on the bench?  No wonder we have flooding and stoppages.  I say let’s move back to two reserves as we had back in the good ole days when the game was free flowing and not all of the players were in the goal square of the team that was attacking.  Remember the days of the full forward and full back standing or shoving one another in the goal square while their opposing players were busy kicking or defending the play? Four players are eight fresh legs.  Two players, are only four fresh legs.  They can’t keep running at the same pace and therefore conserve their energy to where it matters.  Ergo, flooding, blocking and stoppages didn’t occur.  Has no one thought to watch some of the matches from the 60s and 70s?


On to the other problem:  I guess we’ve given up on insisting that those who have the broadcast rights must have 50% of the commentators who are female?  So perhaps we should work at growing the female commentary and involvement at the top level in a different way, which I’ll explain in a tick.


I’ve heard various (male) commentators say that they only include commentators who have played the game, and that therefore excludes women.  Well, now, of course we have at least 200 female players from the first tier of the AFLW competition.  But, sadly only one or two are included.  Then, of course, we have fabulous commentators such as Bruce McAvaney who has played no more first grade footy games than I have:  yet, he is allowed to commentate.  So that argument doesn’t wash.


Addressing the involvement in and commentary by women in the AFL generally, AFLM in particular and of course the AFLW:  I wonder whether the AFL has thought about insisting that each coach include two women in the coaching box for each match?  My proposal would include at least one of those women doing the media interviews during the breaks.  They could be the existing coaches of AFLW:  whoops, sadly, there are no women left there.  Or players from AFLW.  Or females who are working towards leadership positions in the AFL.  Such exposure would enhance the development of women in this game that is supposedly the sporting hallmark of Australia.  This wouldn’t be hard.  It’d cost zilch.


You’re welcome AFL:  I fear that decision-makers are only paying lip service to the genuine involvement of women in this great game.  Happy to help you develop a program.  I’d even do it for free.  After all, that seems to be the way of involving women in the game.


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. Some valid points here, Anne.

    I have really warmed to Daisy Pearce, particularly as she grows in confidence and professionalism. So surely there are plenty of other women who are just as good as Daisy?

  2. I endorse what Smokie said. I initially thought Daisy was tokenism, but her insights and knowledge on 7 and SEN put BT and Lingy (and me) to shame. More please – commentators not “personalities” – male or female.

  3. Anne Cahill Lambert says

    Thanks Peter and Smokie,

    Yes, Daisy is good, but she can’t be everywhere. In a country of nearly 24 million, half of them are women. Let’s whittle it down to, say, 500 who I’m sure are good at this because they play, watch, volunteer in this great game that is AFL. It’s disappointing we can’t find any more women amongst the 12 million!

  4. I enjoy Lauren Arnell’s comments on ABC Radio.
    Lauren has a great knowledge of the game supported by a good sense of humour.

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