Most recent season or competition:|
2018 AFL Women's season
|Sport||Australian rules football|
15 September 2016,|
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|No. of teams||8|
|Headquarters||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Most titles||Adelaide and Western Bulldogs (1 AFLW premiership each)|
|Australian Football League|
AFL Women's (AFLW) is Australia's national Australian rules football league for female players. The first season of the league began in February 2017 with eight teams. The league is run by the Australian Football League (AFL) and is contested by a subset of clubs from that competition. The reigning premiers are the Western Bulldogs.
- 1 History
- 2 Clubs
- 3 Venues
- 4 Players
- 5 Season structure
- 6 Awards
- 7 Media coverage
- 8 Corporate relations
- 9 Women's exhibition games (2013–2016)
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
In 2010 the Australian Football League commissioned a report into the state of women's football around the country. Along with findings concerning grassroots and junior football, the report recommended the AFL Commission begin working toward the establishment of a national women's league. While the option of new stand-alone clubs was considered, a model utilising the resources and branding of existing AFL clubs was to be the preferred model for the planned league.
The first on-field step towards the competition took place in 2013, when the AFL announced an exhibition match to be played between women's teams representing Melbourne and Western Bulldogs later that year.
On 15 May 2013, the first women's draft was held, establishing the playing lists for the two clubs in the forthcoming exhibition match. The match was played on 29 June 2013 and marked the first time two women's sides had competed under the banners of AFL clubs. The exhibition series was repeated with one game between the clubs in 2014 and two in 2015, the last of which, played on 16 August 2015, was broadcast on free-to-air television and attracted strong ratings.
The success of these series prompted the AFL to accelerate its plans for a nationwide women's competition, announcing a preferred start date of 2017. Prior to this, the league had announced only aspirational plans to have the women's competition established by the end of the 2010s. The already-planned 2016 exhibition series was expanded at this time, with a total of ten matches to be played in venues across the country and featuring a range of new temporary representative teams.
In 2016, the AFL opened a process for existing clubs to tender applications to join the new competition. The eighteen senior clubs in the Australian Football League had until 29 April 2016 to place a bid for a licence, with thirteen clubs making bids. The AFL's preferred distribution of clubs was four clubs from Victoria and one each from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
The inaugural teams were announced on 8 June 2016. As the only teams to bid in their respective states, Adelaide, Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney were granted licences to compete in 2017. Both Western Australian clubs made bids, with Fremantle's bid chosen ahead of West Coast's. Eight Victorian clubs made bids: Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, Carlton and Collingwood were successful, with Geelong, North Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda unsuccessful. All five unsuccessful bidders were granted provisional licences.
Details about the branding of the league were released in the second half of 2016. The AFL announced that the league would be named "AFL Women's" on 15 September 2016, with the logo being unveiled on 19 September 2016. The logo is a stylised rendition of an Australian rules football ground goal square and goal posts, drawn from a perspective which shows a "W". On 10 October 2016, the National Australia Bank was named as the league's naming rights sponsor.
The first premiership game was played on Friday, 3 February 2017, and the inaugural season concluded with the grand final on Saturday, 25 March. Adelaide were the league's first premiers.
Expansion of the competition is scheduled to first occur in 2019 and then again in 2020. By the end of 2020, the competition will grow by 6 teams, to include 14 teams in total. The ten AFL clubs not originally participating in the competition were invited to bid for inclusion, with priority given to the five clubs that unsuccessfully bid to participate in the inaugural season. The deadline to lodge submissions was 16 June 2017. The only clubs not to bid were Port Adelaide and Sydney. North Melbourne worked with AFL Tasmania to craft its bid, with the club aiming to play home matches in Melbourne, Hobart and Launceston, and has a target to select half of the playing list from Tasmania. A final decision on which clubs are admitted to the competition was expected by the end of July 2017 but was delayed several times to September 2017.
On 27 September 2017, the AFL announced that North Melbourne and Geelong had been selected to come into the competition in 2019. North Melbourne retained its commitment to playing matches in Tasmania. The league will then expand an additional four teams beginning in 2020, with the AFL selecting West Coast, Richmond, Gold Coast and St Kilda to join the competition.
|Club||Entry in 2017||Entry in 2019/20|
|Greater Western Sydney||Yes||Yes||N/A|
AFL Women's operates on a single table system, with no divisions, conferences nor promotion and relegation from other leagues.
The competition's 8 teams are based across 5 states of Australia. Half are based in the Melbourne metropolitan area. The states of New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia have one team each. Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory, and Northern Territory are the only states or mainland territories not to have AFL Women's clubs. Six clubs will be added to the competition in 2019 and 2020, three of which come from Victoria (Geelong, St Kilda and Richmond), one a joint bid from both Victoria and Tasmania (North Melbourne), one from Queensland (Gold Coast) and one from Western Australia (West Coast).
|Adelaide||Crows||South Australia||1990||2017||Position vacant|
|Fremantle||Dockers||Western Australia||1994||2016||2017||Position vacant|
|Greater Western Sydney||Giants||New South Wales||2009||2016||2017||Alan McConnell|
|Western Bulldogs||Bulldogs||Victoria||1877||2013||2017||Paul Groves|
|North Melbourne||Kangaroos||Victoria & Tasmania||1869||2019||Scott Gowans|
|West Coast||Eagles||Western Australia||1986||2016||2020||TBD|
|Map of the grounds used during the 2018 AFLW season|
Below are the venues that will be used during the 2018 AFL Women's season.
|Blacktown International Sportspark||Sydney, New South Wales||Greater Western Sydney||10,000|
|Casey Fields||Melbourne, Victoria||Melbourne||12,000|
|Drummoyne Oval||Sydney, New South Wales||Greater Western Sydney||5,000|
|Fremantle Oval||Perth, Western Australia||Fremantle||17,500|
|Ikon Park||Melbourne, Victoria||Carlton||24,568|
|Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex||Brisbane, Queensland||Brisbane||8,000|
|Norwood Oval||Adelaide, South Australia||Adelaide||22,000|
|Olympic Park Oval||Melbourne, Victoria||Collingwood||3,000|
|Optus Stadium||Perth, Western Australia||Fremantle||60,000|
|South Pine Sports Complex||Brisbane, Queensland||Brisbane||3,000|
|Ted Summerton Reserve||Moe, Victoria||Collingwood||7,500|
|TIO Stadium||Darwin, Northern Territory||Adelaide||12,000|
|TIO Traeger Park||Alice Springs, Northern Territory||Melbourne||10,000|
|UNSW Canberra Oval||Canberra, Australian Capital Territory||Greater Western Sydney||16,000|
|VU Whitten Oval||Melbourne, Victoria||Western Bulldogs||12,000|
The club's playing lists were constructed from scratch through the later stages of 2016. All participants in the 2017 season are required to be over the age of 17.
Initially, clubs were asked to nominate a list of desired players, with the AFL assigning two of these "marquee" players to each club. In addition, clubs were able to sign a number of players with existing connections to the club, or with arrangements for club sponsored work or study. This number varied for each club, in an attempt to equitably spread talent across the teams. In addition, clubs were required to recruit two "rookies" - people with no Australian rules football experience in the previous three-year period. The majority of players were later recruited through the 2016 AFL Women's draft. The balance of list spots was filled with free-agent signings in the week following the draft. In total clubs have a 27 active listed players in addition to injury replacements signed to take the spot of long-term injury affected players.
In 2017 the players salary was managed and paid in full by the AFL on behalf of the clubs. A pay deal struck between the league and the AFLPA in November 2016 set the season payment structure as follows:
|Marquee players||Priority players||Other players|
Players were contracted for nine hours of training and meetings at their clubs per week and the base payments were calculated pro-rata based on the hourly rate of rookie AFL players of $29.32. In addition, players are provided with playing boots and runners, an interstate travel allowance, income insurance, out-of-pocket medical expense coverage and an allowance to pay for a carer for a child under 12 months of age when travelling interstate.
Total payments in 2017 totalled $2.275 million
The league was initially criticised for its offer of players salaries. Under the first offer, the base salary would be $5,000 for most players, and $10,000 for marquee players. While the pay was extremely low in comparison to AFL players, it also did not cover equipment, travel expenses, or relocation to their club if interstate for the pre-season and duration of the season. The AFL defended its offer by noting that the league (at the time) had no sponsorship or TV rights deals.
A new deal for player payments in the 2018 season was struck on 2 November 2017. Under the new 24 week contracts, players would see base salary raises of more than 17% but would now be required to commit 13 to 15 hours per week for training and meetings during pre-season and 10 hours during the season in addition to match day hours. The tiered structure was re-branded, with the four tiers and their season salary outlined below:
|Tier one||Tier two||Base wage||Rookie list|
In addition, clubs will have a marketing budget of $40,000 to which they can allocate to between four and eight players with a minimum of $5000 and maximum of $10,000 per player. Total player payments under this deal will be up $477,000 from the year before to $2.752 million in 2018.
Prior to the commencement of the home-and-away season teams are paired off to play an exhibition trial match. In 2017 these matches took place during varying weeks of January.
The AFL Women's home-and-away season last for seven rounds, starting in the first weekend of February and ending in late March. Teams receive four premiership points for a win and two premiership points for a draw. Ladder finishing positions are based on the number of premiership points won, and "percentage" (calculated as the ratio of points scored to points conceded throughout the season) is used as a tie-breaker when teams finish with equal premiership points.
The two highest place teams at the conclusion of the home-and-away season will qualify for the Grand Final match. The winner of this match is the competition's premier. In 2017 the grand final match was played in the last Saturday in March, during Round 1 of the AFL season.
The following major individual awards and accolades are presented each season:
- Best & Fairest Trophy - to the fairest and best player in the league, voted by the umpires
- Leading Goalkicker Award - to the player who kicks the most goals during the home-and-away season
- All-Australian Team - a squad of 22 players deemed the best in their positions, voted by an AFL-appointed committee
- Rising Star Award - to the fairest and best young player under the age of 21 as at the start of the calendar year, voted by the AFL-appointed All-Australian committee
- Grand Final Best on Ground Award - the best player on the ground in the Grand Final, voted by a committee of media members
In its inaugural season all matches will be televised live by affiliate partners the Seven Network and Fox Footy. As part of the initial broadcast deal the free-to-air carrier Seven will show one Saturday night game per week as standard in addition to the league's opening match and Grand Final. Meanwhile, pay TV network Fox Footy will televise all premiership season matches including simulcasts of the Seven-hosted matches other than the Grand Final. Under the current arrangement the two television networks will cover the costs of broadcasting these matches with no licensing fee to be paid to the league in exchange.
The official internet/mobile broadcast partner of the AFL is BigPond, part of Telstra. The company hosts the league website as well as those of each of the eight participation clubs. The AFL has retained digital broadcast rights to matches in the league's inaugural season and will stream all matches live and free on the league website and mobile app.
Official match day attire together with other club merchandise is sold through the AFL's stores and website as well through the clubs and through some retailers.
Women's exhibition games (2013–2016)
Prior to the creation of the league, the AFL ran four years of exhibition matches between sides representing Melbourne and Western Bulldogs. In 2016, the series was expanded to multiple teams from around the country.
|2013 exhibition game|
|Sunday, 30 June||Melbourne 8.5 (53)||def.||Western Bulldogs 3.3 (21)||MCG (crowd: 7,500)||Match report|
|2014 exhibition game|
|Sunday, 29 June||Western Bulldogs 4.2 (26)||def. by||Melbourne 10.12 (72)||Etihad Stadium (crowd: 24,953 (D/H))||Match report|
|2015 exhibition series|
|Sunday, 24 May||Melbourne 4.13 (37)||def.||Western Bulldogs 4.5 (29)||MCG (crowd: 29,381 (D/H))||Match report|
|Sunday, 16 August||Western Bulldogs 5.6 (36)||def. by||Melbourne 6.4 (40)||Etihad Stadium (crowd: 27,805 (D/H))||Match report|
|2016 exhibition series|
|Sunday, 2 March||Melbourne 3.3 (21)||def. by||Western Bulldogs 6.5 (41)||Highgate Recreational Reserve||Match report|
|Saturday, 2 April||SANFL Blue 5.4 (34)||def.||SANFL Red 5.2 (32)||Adelaide Oval (crowd: 51,585 (D/H))||Match report|
|Saturday, 9 April||Sydney 9.8 (62)||def.||Greater Western Sydney 5.3 (33)||SCG (crowd: 37,045 (D/H))||Match report|
|Saturday, 9 April||West Coast 13.10 (88)||def.||Fremantle 3.5 (23)||Domain Stadium (crowd: 40,555 (D/H))||Match report|
|Sunday, 10 April||Northern Territory 13.11 (89)||def.||Tasmania 7.11 (53)||Peanut Reserve||Match report|
|Saturday, 16 April||Brisbane 5.8 (38)||def.||Gold Coast 3.6 (24)||Gabba (crowd: 20,041 (D/H))||Match report|
|Sunday, 22 May||Melbourne 14.7 (91)||def.||Brisbane 3.2 (20)||MCG (crowd: 26,892 (D/H))||Match report|
|Sunday, 5 June||Western Bulldogs 8.5 (53)||def.||Western Australia 5.10 (40)||Etihad Stadium (crowd: 28,769 (D/H))||Match report|
|Sunday, 5 June||South Australia 4.3 (27)||def.||NSW/ACT 3.7 (25)||Adelaide Oval (crowd: 40,896 (D/H))||Match report|
|Saturday, 3 September||Western Bulldogs 14.6 (90)||def.||Melbourne 7.9 (51)||Whitten Oval (crowd: 6,365)||Match report|
- AFL Women's National Championships
- AFL Women's Under 18 Championships
- List of Australian rules football women's leagues
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- First bounce for women's footy at the MCG
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