The inaugural season of the women’s AFL competition has been over for a few weeks now. So it is time for a good whole AFLW debrief.
Pros, cons, successes and failures, nothing is off the table. So let’s go through this historical season one topic at a time.
Open Talks’ AFLW Debrief
Before we get into it, if you’d rather listen to a cool podcast instead of reading anymore of this text. Feel free to stop reading right now and listen to the second episode of Open Talks instead.
A much better option if you are presently driving or are simply turned on by the sound of my voice. Don’t forget to subscribe!!
Quality of the game
Let’s be honest, it started a little rough. The kicking was weak, the scores were low and the execution was questionable at best. A lot of people were wondering if too many inexperience players were making the product a bit weak.
But then some players started to stand out. Not only marquee players like Katie Brennan and Daisy Pierce, but also young guns like Sarah Perkins and Ebony Marinoff from the Adelaide Crows.
From a quality point of view, this AFLW debrief concludes that money needs to be invested at junior level. The talent is there and the interest from young girls is there as well. All they need is the chance to learn from qualified coaches at junior levels so they can evolve into professional athletes the same way men do.
This is, in my opinion, the biggest success of the AFLW so far. Free entrance for all, hosting games at suburban grounds and playing during summer were all strokes of genius from the AFL head office.
Free entrance meant that everyone was able to bring their kids (especially young girls) and enjoy a great time at the footy. Just like in the good old days.
Playing in the summer allowed the clubs to dedicate all their marketing and PR resources to their women’s squad. The girls were front and center on TV, web and radio. Which would’ve never happened if they were playing at the same time as the men. Case and point: the A-League and W-League seasons clash.
Obviously the most negative aspect of this AFLW debrief is the handling of the Grand Final situation. As I mentioned earlier, the W-League (women soccer) has always been in the shadow of the A-League, being treated by the FFA as nothing more than a curtain raiser for the men.
Please AFL don’t make the same mistake. Let the women have their own space and never EVER make an AFLW Grand Final the opening act for anything else again. I don’t care if it’s round one of the AFL or a Justin Timberlake concert, these ladies don’t open for anyone.
Marquee Player Rule
There’s been whispers about getting rid of the marquee player rule to allow money to be distributed more equally amongst players. I’m personally against because marquee players are what sell the game.
For a very
educated fiery and interesting debate on the question, listen to the second episode of Open Talks on iTunes.
AFLW Debrief Conclusion
In conclusion, the inaugural season of the AFLW was a huge success as far as first seasons go. There’s obviously room for amelioration but the key element to remember is that the success of season one wasn’t a simple flash in the pan. It built solid foundations for a bright future ahead.
by Ed Toussaint – contributor