Why do you support the women's AFL but not the W-League?

The first weekend of the AFLW has come and gone and along with it, a multitude of records.

AFL Women's Rd 1 - Collingwood v Carlton

Carlton's Brianna Davey thanks fans during after the AFLW round one match between Carlton and Collingwood Source: Getty Images

First to topple; over a million viewers on various channels including free to air TV for the weekend.

The Carlton v Collingwood game saw on average of 123,000 viewers on pay TV and in stadiums drew a massive crowd of nearly 25,000 people. The stands were full to the brim with die-hard and curious fans alike.

The spectacle inside the stadium was matched with that outside the stadium with reports suggesting there were 2000 – 3000 people turned away at the gates for security/safety reasons.

A problem the AFL had probably not expected. AFL chief executive Gill McLaughlin was seen outside the stadium dousing the flames of having to tell people it was a LOCK OUT. A nice problem to have I dare say?

Meanwhile, two major semi finals for the W-League were played over the weekend, with not much fanfare.

The Melbourne City v Canberra United semi was rescheduled from 2pm to 8pm due to heat - and rightly so for the good of the players - and the crowd actually exceeded that which turned out for the A-League match beforehand.

It was, nonetheless, still dwarfed by the AFLW.

So I have to ask… Why? Why the AFLW and not the W-League?

Why did you see so many ‘football fans’ (soccer fans) at the AFLW games? Why did so many watch on TV? Many of these football fans haven’t watched a W-League game all season, whether on TV or in the flesh.

I personally know 30 people who either attended or tried to attend an AFLW match. Myself being one of them.

Is it the free tickets (yes FREE)?
The stand-alone matches?
The fact that it’s been 100 years in the making?

Maybe it’s the fact that everyone who turned up to the match knew EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.

The who, the what, the when and the how were all cleverly promoted by the AFL. From each club’s team announcement to their jersey presentations.

Many clubs opted to have the men’s team give their shirt to the female player with the same number. For example, Carlton's Brianna Davey (who is also a W-League player and former Matildas goalkeeper) was handed her No.1 jersey by her male counterpart Jack Silvagni.

The men’s AFL coaches were seen at training sessions and even speaking to the squad as a whole to make the girls feel included. All great ways to build promotion and all don’t cost a cent.

I also feel the crowd turned up because of how well the girls had been respected and treated during their time in their clubs colours.

Many of us wanted to support women's sport in general. It just so happened it came together at these AFLW games.

Many footballers grew up playing kick to kick in the backyard and wanting to play the oval ball code but we never had the chance. So now we watch the girls who can and admire their ability to do so very well.

I want to applaud the AFL for now using a portion of their vast amounts of revenue for the good of 50 per cent of the population.

Many codes could reflect your pay packets if they had your revenue but alas, they don’t.

Thank you for helping kids realise their dreams of putting on the crest of the club that has, for many of these girls, been in their blood since they attended their first game as a kid.

Though the pay packets are by no means the same, the way in which these girls have been treated has been refreshing for female sports fans.

You may be 100 years late to the party but at least you made a big entrance.

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4 min read
Published 8 February 2017 at 4:28pm
By Melissa Barbieri