Women in Sport: AFL accelerates launch of nationwide women's competition

By @hoopsdontstop30 on
Women's_AFL_match
The AFL has accelerated plans of launching a nationwide women’s competition. Wikimedia/HappyWaldo

The AFL has accelerated its plans to launch a nationwide women’s competition after a successful free-to-air TV broadcast of the league’s women’s game last year.

A Round 20 exhibition match on Aug. 18 last year between two all-female teams affiliated with the Western Bulldogs and the Melbourne Demons was the first AFL women’s match to be telecast in the country. It out-rated the men's match between Adelaide and Essendon from the previous day, surprising the AFL and pushing it to accelerate an Australia wide women’s league set from 2020 to 2017, reports the ABC.

Some of the most powerful women in the game are urging the league to lay down the complete details of the planned expansion. According to Richmond Tigers president Peggy O’Neal, the move to create their own women’s team will only be possible if it makes commercial sense.

"We don't know, for example, what kind of financial contribution comes from us, what kind of financial contribution from the league, how many games we're going play, where we're going play them," O’Neal said.

All AFL clubs are eligible to tender for a women’s team. However, submissions will have to wait for now, with the league yet to send the tender documents to the clubs, causing delays for AFL teams who are ready to secure one of the limited women’s team licenses.

According to Samantha Lane of The Age, CEOs of clubs were advised that the tender process was being delayed by the AFL in a memo from league executive Simon Lethlean, general manager of game and market development.

"The work at the moment is centred around ID-ing [female player] talent, and looking at the number of teams, and potential location of teams," Lethlean told Fairfax Media. "We expect we're going to be in a position to provide more detail in coming months."