As the All-Australian team, NAB Rising Star and AFLW best and fairest are named at the W Awards, the media spotlight that was burning so bright on women’s footy will soon fade and switch off.
For months they were household names, but soon these elite female footballers will slip back into near anonymity when playing footy back at state league level.
After being paid to play the game they love in front of many thousands of fans, they will now be putting their hands into their own pockets to pay their club fees while also taking up various volunteer roles to help keep their local clubs afloat.
It’s at this time, when there is the greatest temptation to jump off the bandwagon and not worry about women’s footy until AFLW 2018, that your support of these women is most greatly needed.
For those who bought women’s foundation memberships at AFL clubs, while a noble gesture and certainly history making, the money you ‘donated’ then doesn’t quite have the same impact as it would at the next level down.
At state league, that type of money could buy you a player sponsorship, that could go towards covering a player’s fees for the year, a much-needed burden lifted off an individual’s shoulders.
The money you donate at state league level goes towards the endless amount of strapping tape, paying the ever increasing league fees and insurance, covering the cost of ground rental and paying the electricity bill to literally keep the lights on.
Even if you can’t spare one or two hundred dollars in sponsors, just a few more people showing up at a state league match and buying a pie and drink can help ease a little of the cost burden these teams face.
So throughout 2017, whenever possible, head along to a local match and remind them that although the mainstream media has moved on, you haven’t, and you’re here to support women’s footy at every level.
If you’ve enjoyed watching any players in particular during the AFLW season, we encourage you to find out which club they were drafted from and show your support!
Below we’ve listed when each state’s top tier league is kicking off and where you can catch a game.
The WAWFL season kicks off on a Saturday morning, April 1, with the West Perth Falcons taking on the East Perth Royals. Both sides were promoted from the WAWFL Reserve Grade (the Falcons being last year’s premiers) and do battle at HBF Arena as part of the WAWFL-WAFL Double Header.
Three games are on Sunday, with the standout being the Grand Final replay between Swan Districts and East Fremantle at Steele Blue Oval. The Swans are the home club of Fremantle captain Kara Donnellan, along with others such as Stephanie Cain and Ashley Sharp, while the Sharks had Brianna Green, Belinda Smith and Melissa Caulfield drafted by the Dockers.
Due to the high number of Victorian women participating in the AFLW competition, the start of the VFL Women’s competition has been pushed back.
Although there will be a number of practice matches for the clubs scattered over the next few weeks, the season officially kicks off on the weekend of May 6/7.
Opening day proves to be the most interesting, with the Grand Final replay and the debut of two new sides.
At Skilled Stadium, the new Geelong Cats team, featuring Lily Mithen, Maddie Boyd and Richelle Cranston, play host to Hawthorn’s new women’s team, the Box Hill Hawks, which are rumoured to have secured star forward Moana Hope.
Meanwhile at Bill Lawry Oval in Northcote, it’s the Grand Final Replay where the star-studded Darebin Falcons, with Daisy Pearce, Lauren Arnell, Karen Paxman and Darcy Vescio, take on a Melbourne University team featuring Emma Kearney, Ellie Blackburn, Alicia Eva and Nicola Stevens.
If you can’t wait that long for your women’s footy fix in Victoria, the Victorian Amateur Football Association will be holding a lightning premiership this weekend.
Over two days, around 800 footballers representing 24 new women’s teams will do battle across two ovals at Elsternwick Park. Play begins at 9am on both mornings.
The state that played host to the first ever AFL Women’s Grand Final kicks off its state league competition this Saturday with three twilight matches.
With the QWAFL now expanded to seven teams, debutante Maroochydore will unfurl its QWAFA flag when it plays host to Wilston Grange at the Maroochydore Multisports Complex on the Sunshine Coast.
At the same, reigning QWAFL premiers Coolangatta Tweed will unfurl their flag at Len Peak Oval when they host the team they beat in last year’s Grand Final, the Yeronga South Brisbane Devils. The Bluebirds are home to Lions AFLW footballers Leah Kaslar and Selina Goodman, while Emily Bates and Sam Virgo were recruited from the Devils.
New South Wales
After some sides struggled with numbers last year, it’s great to report that the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division has expanded to eight teams in 2017, with clubs reporting an influx of new recruits.
The reigning premiers, the UNSW Eastern Suburbs Stingrays, are the home of Jacinda Barclay, Maddie Collier and Rebecca Beeson. They’ll be on the road for round one this Saturday when they take on the newly combined Auburn-Penrith Giants at Greygums Oval.
Another notable match is when Macquarie University, home of GWS captain Amanda Farrugia, play host to Sydney University, the club from which Nicola Barr and Erin McKinnon were recruited form.
Also, The UTS Shamrocks will make their Premier Division debut this Saturday morning when they take on Kristy De Pellegrini’s home club Southern Power at Gwawley Oval.
Australian Capital Territory
Strangely enough, the AFL Canberra Women’s season kicks off this Saturday, with a round 13 fixture that was brought forward.
From 10:00am at ADFA Oval, the ADFA Rams play host to the Belconnen Magpies.
Belconnen is the original home club of Melbourne’s Elise O’Dea and Adelaide Crows premiership footballer Heather Anderson.
It’s also worth noting that AFL Canberra women’s representative team was formerly coach by the Crows premiership coach Bec Goddard.
Women’s footy fans in South Australia have been spoilt, with not only being able to watch the eventual premiers the Adelaide Crows showcase their brand of footy in AFLW, but also been enjoying the SANFL Women’s competition that has been running almost parallel with the national comp.
The SANFL Women’s season comes to a close this Saturday at 4:30pm, when North Adelaide takes on Norwood at Unley Oval to decide the inaugural premiers. For those outside of SA, the game is streamed live at SANFL.com.au
After a short break, the top players in SA Women’s footy then return for the Adelaide Football League Women’s competition (formerly SAWFL) in May.
Tasmanian women’s football has gone through a restructure over summer, with the state league reduced to a more focused five team elite competition, with three smaller clubs dropping back to join a number of new clubs in one of three newly created regional leagues.
Tassie fans will need to show a bit of patience, as the season won’t kick off until Saturday, April 29.
In the opening round, the Burnie Dockers, featuring Melbourne’s Emma Humphries, will play host to the Glenorchy Magpies. Whilst in the other game, the original home club of Jessica Wuetschner, the Clarence Roos, travel north to face the Launceston Blues.