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A League of One’s Own: The AFL, and Women’s Sport

Listen to A League of One’s Own: The AFL, and Women’s Sport

There’s nothing new about women playing Australian Rules Football – they’ve been doing it for as long as men have. Local clubs for girls and women have existed for decades; there are now almost 1,000 of them around the country. Last year, participation jumped by 19% – with 380,000 Australian women playing throughout the year.

Photo: Claire Flynn

It’s always been clear that many women love the game; they comprise a large proportion of crowds watching men’s AFL matches, too. This year’s launch of the AFL’s National Women’s League – brought forward three years, due to popular response – marks a major milestone in women’s ability to compete at the highest level. But another test looms: the League will have to prove its appeal with sponsors and advertisers in order to grow and endure.

So – what did the inaugural 2017 season reveal to us? What will it take to ensure the success of the Women’s League, and what can advocates for other sports learn?

Sports reporter Karen Lyon hosts this conversation with fellow journalist and author Angela Pippos, former Western Bulldogs VP (and longtime champion of women’s footy) Susan Alberti and former AFL commissioner and AFL life membership recipient Sam Mostyn. Alongside Carlton co-vice captain Bri Davey and marquee player Darcy Vescio, they share their insights on the transformations taking place in Australian sport; about the so-called ‘grass ceiling’, and about how the media plays a part in the way women’s sport is played, seen and funded.

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