Women armed with a football and a dream | EDITORIAL

Erin Phillips and Abbey Holmes. Photo: AFL Media.

Erin Phillips and Abbey Holmes. Photo: AFL Media.

It’s been a whirlwind two months, but the inaugural AFLW season has come to an end.

After months of speculation before the season about how good the skills would be, if it would draw in crowds, and if it would be a success overall, most would agree that the league’s players and staff smashed expectations out of the park.

We’ve seen more long bomb goals, spectacular marks, and fast-paced passages of play as the season bore on, right up until the big dance – the grand final between Adelaide and Brisbane. And wasn’t that an exciting one to watch?! No Home and Away cliffhanger compares to that finale.

As cliche as it is, the story of the AFLW has been an inspirational one.

Most players have embraced the challenge of entering unknown territory as professional athletes – while also working day jobs to pay the bills.

Supporter bases have grown as people realised that, hey, footy isn’t a “men’s sport” and these women have guts and talent.

And girls and women have got it in their heads that “if they can do it, why can’t I?”

Since the announcement of a national comp, player numbers have exploded.

We’re just starting to see how that is paying off, as “normal” seasons kick into gear.

The Adelaide Footy League (formerly SA Women’s Football League) has expanded from having two divisions last year to five.

In the inaugural Great Southern Football League Women’s competition, four teams have filled teams for three age groups.

The skills of the AFLW players are above expectations most had before the season – but imagine what the standards would’ve been like if they had competitions like the GSFLW while they were growing up.

It’s going to take a while to be at the same standard as the flagship competition – but they have had a 100-year head-start. The competition will grow, skills will be refined, and crowds? Build it and they will come.

And a bit of trivia for those worried about AFLW scores and crowd numbers: The first VFL (now AFL) grand final between Fitzroy and Essendon only drew in 16,500 people and the score was 5.8 (38) to 3.5 (23).

Compare that to the inaugural AFLW grand final crowd of 15,600 and score of 4.11 (35) to 4.5 (29) and I think you could agree it’s on par with the men’s competition when that was in its infancy. 

The future of women’s football is an exciting one and I can’t wait to see Fleurieu girls play on the big stage. 

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