The announcement of the inaugural eight teams to compete in the AFL National Women’s League in 2017 has been made, and its fantastic to see the Brisbane Lions awarded the Queensland licence. It’s clear that Queensland women love their AFL, we have the highest rate of female AFL participation in the country – 33% of the total AFL participants are women and girls, numbering over 70 000 in total – and those players now have the chance to play their sport at an elite level, just as their brothers, partners, sons and fathers do.
The Brisbane Lions women’s team also has the opportunity to play an important role in what still is an expansion market, where AFL competes for participation and coverage with both rugby codes plus soccer. None of these other codes provide women with a playing opportunity at this elite level, and I think the competitive advantage that this delivers the AFL will be really significant.
We saw over summer how Australian crowds flocked to the Women’s Big Bash games, of a magnitude great enough to drive a quick change to the broadcast schedule mid-season, and I think the AFL Women’s League has the potential to capture community interest in the same way which is great not just for women’s footy but for footy overall.
To have the biggest sporting body in the country open the doors to women playing at the elite level is a great illustration of the shifting attitude towards women in sport. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Lions via my role as a Board Director as this exciting opportunity comes to life, and can’t wait to see the game changing impact it has.