Using Everything You’ve Got to Win a Premiership

What was it about Richmond at the weekend that got them over the line and into the finals?  There were several teams vying for that last spot, but Richmond came home with a terrific burst to ensure they now have an opportunity to play in September.

I’ve got some theories about why they won the last seven matches of the season to book their berth in the final eight.  But I’ll digress for a minute and report on a fabulous event at the ‘G in round 18.

I suggested to one of my sisters that she and I might make the trek from Canberra to the ‘G for Hawks v Swans on 26 July.  We both barrack for the Hawks and our second team is the Swans.  Plus, it was the battle for the top of the ladder.  But wait, there’s more:  there was a Women in Football dinner being held in the committee room.  I suggested to my sister that we should attend that.  Yes, sure there’d be a speech.  But heck; there are only three senior women in AFL at the coaching level, so it shouldn’t take too long to mention them all!

A perfectly beautiful week was planned that included shopping, shows and ultimately a fabulous evening at the footy.  The speech was really interesting.  The speaker was Dr Pippa Grange who had prepared a report with the Richmond Football Club on gender equity.  That report has been publicly released this week.

It’s no surprise to me that Richmond would want to lead the field as far as gender equity is concerned.  The Club President is none other than Peggy O’Neil.  The Board comprises nine people, and two of them are women.  This is heartening as the Club is clearly committed to ensuring it uses everything it can to be successful.  All other AFL clubs have at least one woman on their board, with the exception of the Eagles who sadly don’t have any women yet.  Three clubs – the Giants, Saints and the already mentioned Tigers – have two women, while the Bulldogs have three women on their board.

Why bother with women in the AFL?  After all, at the elite level, the men’s game is apparently the only one that really counts.  As I have already mentioned in other Almanac entries, there are just three women who are coaches or assistant coaches in first division teams in the AFL.

Women are intimately involved with AFL.  They are mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, cousins, wives, girlfriends of players, coaches and other staff.  They comprise an enormous number of supporters.  And, gosh, they’re clever as well.  They can coach, nurture, support, manage, judge and decide on any manner of other matters in fields such as the law, education, health, business, construction, finance, to name a few.  Why then wouldn’t we want them in all facets of our game?

Dr Grange’s report addresses these very issues.  At the crux of the agenda is that leading businesses have already demonstrated a business case to adopt gender equity because it makes bottom line business sense.  She noted that sport is not shared equally between men and women; I would add that indeed at the jumper washing or orange cutting level, there are plenty of women involved.  But, sadly, not at the leadership level.

So, let’s see whether a link can be drawn by the involvement of women at the highest level in the AFL.  I think that one of the reasons Richmond has done so very well is because it is embracing everything it can:  tapping into the talents of diversity, including women.

Women bring different traits to the board table, to staff discussions and decisions, to financial imperatives.  Why we wouldn’t want to embrace all of these traits is beyond me, a mere woman.

I wonder whether things would have been different with Essendon’s troubles if it had a few more women around the table?  And for the West Coast, it would be nice if, in a state of over two and a half million people, they could find at least one woman to go on their board.

I’m calling it:  Richmond is a well-rounded team that is committed to changing the gender balance.  It will reap the rewards over the coming years and I would urge other teams to get on board.

Now if only we could convince television and radio stations to do the same!

Anne C-L Richmond gender flyer

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. Great article and logic Anne.
    In my Eagles defence we did have Julie Bishop on the board for a long time. Did she not qualify on gender grounds, or did she have to resign when she became Foreign Minister?
    The Avenging Eagle has her hand up to show those suits on the board a thing or two.
    Peter B

  2. Anne Cahill Lambert says

    Oh, Peter, I had forgotten about Ms Bishop. But do you think it was too hard to find at least one other woman in an economically burgeoning jurisdiction to replace her? What I’m really keen to embrace is not just women on the board, but women in all facets of club life, as Dr Grange has suggested. Never mind the concept of women commentating on the TV and radio.
    Do you really barrack for the Eagles now?
    Stranger things have happened!

  3. Anne
    I heard Peggy O’Neil interviewed on radio the week after Richmond had lost to Melbourne and Jack Riewoldt was in the spotlight for his comments about the game plan. Classic “turmoil in Tigerland” stuff. Peggy spoke calmly, rationally and strategically that day, batting back all the provocative questions with aplomb. I knew then and there that as long as she and people like her are running the show, the bad old days of Richmond panicing and eating its own are long gone.

    Nice piece.


  4. Anne Cahill Lambert says

    Thanks Sam!

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