The AFLW is preparing to undergo a radical overhaul but not everyone in footy is convinced the right moves are being made.
The AFLW is preparing to undergo a radical overhaul but not everyone in footy is convinced the right moves are being made.

Female footy fallout divides Australia

Expansion is on the cards for women's footy but not everyone is convinced about the plan to revamp the dates for the AFLW season.

This year's campaign kicked off in late January, culminating in a Grand Final played in mid-April. There were concerns having the biggest matches of the year on at a time when the men's competition was in full swing diluted from the women's game, so the AFL Commission on Thursday confirmed next season will be brought forward to start in December.

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This will result in all 10 rounds of the AFLW competition being given "clear air" to avoid overlapping with the men's season, with the Grand Final scheduled to take place in mid-March, a week before the AFL season starts.

"The AFL Commission has … endorsed a change in the timing of the NAB AFLW Competition to ensure the elite women's season has its own window from Round One through to the Grand Final, removing any overlap with the Toyota AFL Premiership Season," a league statement read.

"This timing provides an ability to optimise the audience and coverage, particularly for the NAB AFLW Finals Series, as well as supporting other considerations such as maximising attendance and participation objectives."

However, there's debate over whether shifting the dates will have the desired effect, given AFLW will now be competing with popular summer sports like cricket and tennis.





Sports writer Richard Hinds said the decision "sadly leaves me cold as a cricket tragic", tweeting: "Footy in December? I really enjoy the AFLW but no thanks. #CricketSeason.

"I understand there are plenty who don't like cricket or other summer sports, or who don't need a break from the relentless Melbourne God of Footy. Just personally disappointed because I really enjoy AFLW and this is a deal breaker for me."

Cricket reporter Daniel Brettig pointed out the AFLW will face a challenge in competing with this summer's Ashes and Big Bash League for viewership, while Mark Gottlieb wrote: "I think moving AFLW is a mistake. They don't actually give themselves clear air - they just give themselves separation from the men's competition."

Journalist Greg Jericho said "footy is *not* a summer sport" while Courtney Gould added: "Why does the AFL hate AFLW so much".

However, others - like hockey star and former Collingwood player Georgie Parker - were supportive of the scheduling change.

"Might be an unpopular opinion but I like this," she tweeted. "I like having clean air away from the men, and you're training in December/January regardless.

"Don't forget these are athletes playing in extreme heat, not local players. Here for it."

Major changes are afoot.
Major changes are afoot.

Ex-AFL star and Carlton AFLW coach Daniel Harford is also a fan. "I think clear air is a good thing," he said on RSN radio.

"We come forward an extra five weeks, Grand Final the week before the AFL season, I think it's a good window, and (a good) week to finish."

In addition to the new season start and end dates, the AFL Commission also revealed its expansion plans, with all clubs to have AFLW teams by 2023.


Originally published as Female footy fallout divides Australia