Skip to content

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


Event Status

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.

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 does 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 will host 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’ll 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.

This event will be Auslan interpreted.


Karen Lyon

For more than two decades, Karen Lyon has covered Melbourne and its sports-obsessed culture. She was a political reporter before crossing the boundary line to sport in 1999, and has been covering the world of sport ever since. Karen has witnessed some of the world’s biggest sporting events for the... Read more

Susan Alberti

Susan Alberti AC is one of Australia’s pre-eminent philanthropists, having donated millions of dollars to medical research and other charitable causes over her successful business career. Susan developed a passion for medical research when her only child, Danielle, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabet... Read more

Sam Mostyn

Sam Mostyn has enjoyed a diverse career across business, politics, science and the arts, international development, not-for-profit sector, Indigenous reconciliation and sport. After many years in senior corporate management roles in telecommunications, broadcasting and insurance, Sam now serves as a... Read more

Angela Pippos

Angela is an award-winning journalist, presenter, documentary-maker, author and MC. Her most recent documentary, The Record, follows Australia’s dramatic Women’s T20 World Cup campaign and the audacious bid to fill the MCG for the final on International Women’s Day 2020. The two-part documenta... Read more

Darcy Vescio

Darcy Vescio joined the Carlton women’s team as a marquee player in 2017. The 23-year-old full-forward started playing footy when she was five, going on to win three VWFL premierships with the Darebin Falcons and representing the Victorian state team on two occasions. After being selected with pic... Read more

Bri Davey

Carlton secured Brianna Davey as one of its marquee players for its inaugural women’s team in 2017. The 21-year-old began her professional sporting career playing soccer, even making the Matildas national squad as goalkeeper.  After winning the 2016 W-League championship with Melbourne City, ... Read more


Melbourne City Conference Centre

190 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne Victoria 3000

More details

Stay up to date with our upcoming events and special announcements by subscribing to the Wheeler Centre's mailing list.

View our privacy policy
Acknowledgment of Country

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.