After a two-month search and with a reportedly significant group of candidates to pick from, the AFL has appointed Olympian Nicole Livingstone as the new head of women’s football.
Livingstone, who medalled at two Olympic Games and has won six Commonwealth Games medals, has had a successful career as a commentator, presenter and sports administrator since retiring in 1996 and will be responsible for the growth and management of the AFLW and female football participation.
A passionate Carlton supporter, Livingstone said the growth of women’s football had been extraordinary.
“Every Australian girl can now actively pursue footy as their passion, past time or career,” Livingstone said.
“Importantly, girls can now follow their dreams and as they do, we will continue to break down any barriers that may exist.”
Livingstone said she was enthusiastic about the challenge of growing female football from the grassroots and ensuring the national competition’s sustainability.
“There are many passionate AFL people around the country, all wanting to see the AFLW find its place in the hearts and minds of Australians and I look forward to connecting with them.”
And Livingstone has plenty to work with; football is one of the fastest growing sports for women and girls nationwide.
In 2016, 380,000 women and girls were playing, an increase of 60,000 on 2015, and although the AFL’s 2017 Annual Report has yet to be released, even conservative estimates would put the number of women and girls playing football in 2017 well over 400,000.
AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan said it was fantastic to get a person of Livingstone’s quality to lead the competition.
“Our first season generated a groundswell of support, and I am thrilled that Nicole is going to join the team to turn that energy into a growing, sustainable and successful women’s competition.”
“Nicole is a champion in every sense – as an athlete, an administrator and an advocate for women in sport… and I am so pleased that our game has attracted someone of her quality and capacity.’’