Women’s Footy – and their breasts

I now have a women’s team to support and barrack for.

Coming into this inaugural season of official women’s footy, and with no Swans team involved, I decided to just play it by ear. I had a feeling it might be a northern states team I would follow, and I definitely had a stronger feeling that it wouldn’t be the Giants.

So, as soon as the Brisbane women ran out onto the ground in their match against the Demons, my choice had been made. My “second” men’s team has always been Brisbane, I’m a passionate Queensland cricket follower, and a fairly staunch Broncos League supporter, so the maroon and gold choice this weekend wasn’t difficult.

Of all four matches played over the past few days, I thought the Demons v Lions game was the best. Or, more to the point, I enjoyed it the most. Maybe that’s because it was a close and fairly even contest, compared to the other three games. Or, maybe it’s because the Queensland women were by far the underdogs and not given any chance of defeating the more fancied Demons, and as such, I wanted them to win. They were determined to show that footy north of the border could match it with, perhaps, the more knowledgeable and more AFL-experienced southern counterparts. The skill level and the flow of the game – despite the heavy rain, thunder and lightning – was evident, and was matched by sheer guts and determination to get over the line in the final quarter.

I enjoyed all four games over the weekend; this one the most.

What has struck me, above all else, is the fact that the teams have had little chance to even train together, let alone play together, and so many players were playing just their first real game of Australian Football. Remarkable really, and a good foretaste of what the women’s game can eventually become: highly skilled, extremely competitive and as professional, hopefully, as the men’s teams we’ve all grown to love.

Having read all of the Almanac stories of the games over the weekend, the passion for the women’s game has been evident, and not just from women. The men who’ve written their stories have shown just what it means to them and their families as well, and one has to hope that the wider community feels the same – or will in time.

The only thing I read in the Almanac that left me a little perturbed was a comment about women’s breasts – especially larger ones – in relation to the game. It was not a put-down, but it got me thinking.

Almanac writer Bring Back the Torp (who no doubt knows a lot more than I do about women’s footy history and footy knowledge generally), had enlightened us all with his very informative piece on January 25th this year Almanac Footy History: A chronological history of women’s Australian Football, and was showing his concern when he posted a Comment under Kasey Symons’ article: AFLW Round 1 – Carlton v Collingwood: This was no exhibition match of Feb 4, 2016. (See linked article at end of piece).

The latter part of his Comment disturbed me, notably when he questioned whether heavy-breasted women could play in the AFLW if they are constantly required to run up and down the oval (7-18kms per game) and whether it could be painful and damaging to the breasts.

I felt obliged to have my say (as is my wont sometimes) and made mention in my subsequent Comment about men and their dicks, and whether they hindered the men in their running capacity on the footy field.

I do realise that my mentioning of the male appendage was perhaps a little sarcastic, and that breasts (I imagine) weigh more than the male appendage, but I honestly can’t imagine that women’s breasts could have any influence on the performance of a woman competing in a footy game – nor men’s penises for that matter.

Bring Back the Torp, still concerned about our breasts, then pointed out that women playing footy could be expected to jog/sprint for 7-18 kms and that female distance runners are slim, and asked whether I/we knew any Olympic distance runner with a Serena Williams-like body.

I have not, as yet, replied to his last Comment. But I will say, here, that female distance/Olympic runners have absolutely nothing to do with the women playing AFL footy. To my knowledge, none of them is an Olympic distance runner. They are simply women with a wide range of differing shapes and sizes: some slim, some not so; some tall, some not so; some who run faster, some not so fast, and certainly some with bigger breasts than others. So what?

Surely it is the overall size of the person – and fitness – (male or female) that counts, when talking about the distance run in a footy game, and nothing to do with the size of the mammary glands.

Well, that is my belief.

To be fair to Bring Back the Torp and his far more detailed comments, see Kasey’s article: AFLW Round 1 – Carlton v Collingwood: This was no exhibition match

About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016. www.myswansloveaffair.com


  1. Kasey Symons says

    Great article Jan and I agree with your sentiments 100% in regards to comments made about the nature of female footballer’s breasts.

    It was confronting to see comments on my article that brought up this, I believe to be, irrelevant issue and it was out of the blue as I had made no mention of it in my post.

    While the comments regarding congestion and the interchange I think are valid talking points for the community to discuss their opinions on, female footballer’s breasts are off-limits for me. I didn’t see any athlete in the weekend’s matches feel it to be an issue for them either.

    Let’s put it to rest now and get on enjoying the rest of the AFLW season. I too had to adopt a team Jan, as my Eagles were denied a license so I’m on board the Doggies and looking forward to seeing them add the AFLW Premiership alongside the 2016 AFL one!

  2. jan courtin says

    Hi Kasey
    Thanks for your response, especially considering your article was involved.

    Enjoy the remainder of the Women’s footy season, and perhaps we can look forward to more of your write-ups!

  3. This was a very funny article which made me laugh out loud.

    I am now far too frightened to admit that since the question is out there, I would be interested in a more scientific response.

    In fact, there has already been one rule change for the women’s game to take account of female physiology, so it is something which can be discussed maturely.

    I am also reminded about the trouble Cricket Australia got themselves into by having a clause in their women’s contract where the cricketer would have to admit to not being pregnant (or something similar).

    Putting aside the rights or wrongs of such a clause, it did get me thinking that there is a potential OH&S issue specific to the women’s game which can never arise in the men’s game (at least not presently).

    Anyway, the more fascinating aspect for me is that given how hard and tough the first four games have been, often soliciting gasps from where I was standing on Saturday night, it’s fantastic to note that no one has questioned the right of women to smack the living daylights out of each other on the footy field, if they so choose to do so.

    In fact, I’m rather comforted by the fact that we have already had our first suspensions for rough play.

  4. jan courtin says

    All for the scientific response, Joey D. What actually would the scientists be looking into though?

    Sorry, I didn’t understand what the potential OH&S issue was about.

    Yes, it is fantastic to note “that no one has questioned the right of women to smack the living daylights out of each other on the footy field, if they so choose to do so”. Although, I’m not a fan of “smacking the living daylights out of each other” – men or women – so I’m hoping that the footy aspect will be played in the spirit of the game as the season extends.

    Thanks for your comments.

  5. Well, I didn’t see the original question, it’s exact wording (assuming the person was asking the question sincerely), I got the impression that he was asking his question in the context of some players needing to run a half marathon in a game – for those players who need to run greater distances, do they need a certain physique to accomplish that?

    The question might be irrelevant for the moment because:
    – the quarters are shorter; and
    – there are six on the interchange bench.

    Nevertheless, it remains an interesting question.

    On the OH&S issue, I mentioned it in the context of the Cricket Australia contracts they recently drew up for their female players. There was a bit of a public backlash to CA including a clause in the contract whereby players guaranteed that they were not pregnant at that precise moment in time.

    Now, I don’t want to say that was or wasn’t appropriate on the part of CA, but it did get me thinking: does the AFL and clubs have a duty of care for any unborn child (if one of the players is pregnant).

    I wonder how the AFL would approach that? It’s an interesting hypothetical, and given the very physical nature of the women’s game, as we have already witnessed, (which I am enjoying by the way) you’d think the AFL must have some sort of policy on it, even if it has not made it public.

  6. jan courtin says

    Thanks for the explanation Joey D. The exact wording of the questions is in the Comments of Kasey’s article: see link at end of my article.

    Re the OH& S issue: I would have thought that if a woman became pregnant she would then stop playing footy – being a contact sport it would be too dangerous for an unborn child. Who knows? And then, again, what about the short period of time before she even knows she’s pregnant? Interesting thoughts.

    Thanks again.

  7. hey there Jan your story about the women playing footy and there breast size is most interesting. i feel that each individual woman will play the game and know for herself whether she is comfortable in her own body! she doesnt need anyone else to tell her! i feel this is the best way to go. i love watching the women play footy and i am so happy for all of them that they are loving it so. GO WOMEN!!!

  8. jan courtin says

    Nailed it, Polly!

  9. Earl O'Neill says

    Hey Jan
    It never occured to me until I read your piece. Now I think about it, as it becomes more serious over the next few years, players will diet and train and lose body fat.
    The real difference is in the hips.

  10. The women’s footy has not taken hold here in WA yet as much as in the eastern states. Perhaps the first game here on Sunday will liven it up.
    On the ‘body shape’ issue I was thinking about other sports where it once might have been regarded as a disadvantage to have a large upper body. The best tennis players were generally slim, willowy and elegant. Margaret Court, BJK, Steffi. Or short and petite – like Chris Evert. But now Serena disproves that theory.
    In the sport I think I know most about – golf – the thin and willowy seemed generally true. How do you swing around those things? But the winningest lady golfer with 84 pro wins including 4 majors over a 20+ year career is Dame Laura Davies. No willowy slip of a thing.
    I guess my point is that the best athletes adapt their techniques, and use their “physical assets” to their advantage. Body shape is a furphy. For every Fyfe there is a Sandilands.
    Bend it Like Beckham, or Launch it Like Laura?

  11. jan courtin says

    Oh, the hips, Earl! All the better to lay a good hip and shoulder!

    And, all true, Peter, For every Fyfe there is a Sandilands – and Laura Davies, what a marvel.

    Thanks all

  12. Love the article and agree with your’s and Polly’s comment that women can be quite responsible for their own bodies and possibly don’t need men showing such concern

  13. jan courtin says

    Thanks for your thoughts, Robyn. Appreciated.

  14. Tony Courtin says

    When I played footy,or cricket,I never gave any thought to my gonads until they collided with another’s anatomy or a very hard red ball. I presume women footballers’ sentiments re their mammary glands would be no different.

  15. jan courtin says

    Ouch! That very hard red ball……!

    Thanks brother Tony.

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