The AFL has launched the Women’s Football Vision for 2021-2030 outlining its commitment to the game for women and girls across all levels of Australian Football.
Targets include hiring at least 50 percent female AFLW senior coaching positions by 2030, AFLW players to become the best paid sportswomen in a domestic competition in the country, visible pathways for administrators to ensure women are positioned for senior football positions and equal participation and representation across all levels of community football.
AFL General Manager of Women’s Football, Nicole Livingstone said she wants AFL to be the most accessible, inclusive, visible sport in the country.
“Women have been playing football for more than 100 years with the earliest known competitive women’s game played in Perth in 1915,” she explained.
“From then on, there are countless moments where women have overcome significant barriers to be able to play the game they love and it is a credit to those who paved the way for current and future stars on and off the field.”
Livingstone acknowledged the contribution and persistence of pioneering individuals “…who pushed and pushed for women to play football should never be forgotten.”
“It is thanks to each pioneer that we are here today, where 600,000 women and girls participate in Australian Football and where all 18 AFL clubs will field an AFLW team by the seventh season,” she said.
Six years ago, a total of 983 community teams were women-only, and 380,000 women and girls were playing Australian Football.
Today, there are more than 2500 community women’s teams and 600,000 women and girls participating in the game.
The NAB AFLW Competition began in 2017 with eight teams, 216 listed players and a seven-round season.
The upcoming season sees 14 teams, 420 listed players and a 10-round season with three weeks of finals before the remaining four AFL teams enter the competition.
“Our Women’s Football Vision is a reflection of the AFL’s absolute commitment to continuing to build on the work of those pioneers and to progress Australian Football at every level of the game,” Livingstone said.
“We are working towards a future where women’s sport continues to be more visible and more valued.”
“[a place for] equal opportunity for women to play, coach, umpire, administer and govern the game, where talent pathways are visible and well-resourced, where we have 18 teams in high- performance environments and where our AFLW players are the highest paid domestic sportswomen in the country.”
“Five seasons in and our AFLW competition has made great headway, however we have much work to do. Our mission remains to accelerate the growth of the AFLW economy to create greater opportunities on and off the field for our best women players and administrators.”
“The Vision also reinforces the AFL’s commitment to increasing representation and diversity across all facets of football and ensuring more women are recruited into senior football roles at the AFL and at Clubs, including coaching across both men’s and women’s programs.”
“From a community football perspective, and it is important we continue to strengthen participation from NAB AFL Auskick to junior and senior community football in environments that are equally safe and inclusive.”
The Women’s Football Vision is also aiming to improve its workplay platform, a new careers and networking project designed to empower female athletes in sport and business.
“As we continue to build a competitive and sustainable competition, workplay was created to help players to match with employers to find flexible employment and development opportunities and assist in removing barriers that may inhibit our players personal growth off the field,” Livingstone said.
“workplay provides opportunities for our women athletes to utilise the skills they have developed through sport and apply them to further career and education opportunities, allowing them to thrive on and off the field.”
Image: Michael Willson