AFLW – We need more, not less.

Hi AFL,

It’s me again. I know I’m sometimes quite the pest and I truly try my best not to be. But the reason I pester is because I love footy.

And hearing today that the AFLW H&A season may be reduced genuinely has me shaken.

You see, in the two seasons the AFLW has run I’ve witnessed so much. Things that the AFLM hasn’t achieved in it’s very long and prominent history.

Like when we all saw the influx of young girls turn up to Auskick after the AFLW was brought in. I saw coaches tell ALL the children they had the opportunity to play at the highest level, and watched kids swap footy cards of their AFLW & AFLM stars when it finished.

We all saw LGBTQI+ relationships normalised when Erin kissed her wife Tracy at the W Awards. Then pride groups for teams strengthen or be created. I felt overwhelmed as I jumped up and down with my Trans friends in the cheer squad at the AFLW knowing full well scenes like that never happen at the AFLM.

I was beyond privileged to sit next to my hometown’s hero, Emma Kearney, when she won the B&F and flashbacks of playing against her as teens overwhelmed me. Because I know it’s harder for country kids to dream big and she inspired so many country girls that night.

I’ve seen more women in leadership roles pop up throughout the AFL. Clubs doing more to change how football culture treats women. And although we’d like to think it’s because clubs are just improving generally, it isn’t. It’s that the AFLW has meant there’s no room for otherwise.

As I sat on the grassy hill at Whitten Oval on a warm evening, I also overheard a large group of people sitting next to me say they “never liked football until now” that they had never been to an AFL game and that the “AFLW is different.” They went on to say they’d be coming again.

I was also there when the AFLW Bulldogs played the Grand Final in the pelting rain and I saw a group of teenaged girls passionately screaming for their teams on the sidelines and laughing that they didn’t care about the mascara running down their faces 😂 Should I also mention how brilliant seeing diverse body types has been for young girls?!

Please don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about me (the footy gods know I can’t catch a ball, I’m even asked by my kids not to volunteer at Auskick because my skills are embarrassing. Ha!)
But this is about the people I’ve seen moved by the AFLW; New groups. New fans. New players.

These people are the way of the future.

I don’t want to lose the AFLW players to other sports. I want them to have more time to develop their skills. I want their sacrifices to this code to be realised and appreciated.

And I don’t want to lose these new fans either.

Gone are the days where we are going to be “grateful” for what we’re given.

We’ve all had a taste of progress, a glimmer of what the future could hold, and we simply won’t accept going backwards.

The AFL is better for having the AFLW. We want more, not less.

Thanks again. Your most loving and supportive pest,

Annie

Do you want to support the AFLW and get the AFL to change its mind about the proposed shorter AFLW home and away season?

Please call up talk-back radio, tweet about it, share your views on social media, write on the AFL’s social media pages, tell all of those you know, make signs to hold up at the AFLM games, and call and write directly to the AFL.

You can also sign these two petitions:

https://www.megaphone.org.au/petitions/respect-aflw?bucket=&source=twitter-share-button

https://www.change.org/p/afl-dump-the-proposed-rule-changes-in-aflw?recruiter=716005745&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition