All about AFL for women
When 2000 people showed up to a barely-publicised AFL Women’s practice game in January, debut games were moved to larger stadiums to meet anticipated demand. When AFLW officially began this weekend, it managed to surpass expectations yet again.
Round One attracted an average of double the anticipated numbers, with thousands of fans locked out of some games. AFL CEO Gillon MacLachlan was spotted outside stadiums apologising to scores of disappointed fans who missed out. The Brisbane Lions and Melbourne Demons, along with an estimated 6000 spectators, braved less-than-ideal conditions (warm temperatures and torrential rain, an unusual combination for AFL) at Casey Fields in outer Melbourne on Sunday evening, demonstrating remarkable skills for players who have just turned semi-professional.
Credit is due to the AFL for developing a women’s league with scope to succeed without being made compete with the men’s league. The competition takes place as a separate time of year, the game has been slightly modified (in part to suit the warmer weather), and games take place at smaller, suburban stadiums with free admittance, making the sport more accessible and linking the league to communities in the way of the Victorian Football League and old days of the AFL.
The AFLW whet the appetite of fans ahead of Round One by launching a dynamic, nineties-inspired ad with successful women and male champions of change supporting the league, sure to evoke nostalgia for anyone who followed football (or advertising) in the 90s. It’s early days in AFLW, but efforts seem to be paying off. This groundbreaking successful debut of a women’s professional sport league is a goal for all.
AFLW runs from February to March. Entry to all games (excluding games forming part of a double header with the JLT Community Series) is free.