AFL Women’s: Riding the change of seasons

Chelsea Randall Roar Guru

By , Chelsea Randall is a Roar Guru New author!


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    Saturday, 25 March, 2017 – 1:00pm – Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast. I’ll never forget that day: the smell of the freshly cut grass, the sweet sensation of adrenaline pumping, the sound of the crowd reverberating throughout the stadium and the palpable excitement of my teammates as we stood on the podium, premiership cup in hand.

    Over 598,000 Australians tuned in to watch us play and over 15,600 flocked to Metricon Stadium to be a part of the live action. Off the back of the opening season, women’s participation in AFL has enjoyed a massive spike. In South Australia alone, the number of junior girls’ teams grew from just 16 last year to 66 in 2017.

    None of us knew what to expect when the AFLW first came about, but it’s safe to say that the public interest, support and media coverage exceeded all expectations. And given a recent VicHealth study found that only 27 per cent of Victorians think there is enough media coverage of female sports and sports people, spectators are hungry for more.

    But now that time has been called on the historic season and the men’s tournament has kicked off, we need to make sure that we ride the momentum and keep women’s sport, and the positive conversations around society’s views towards women, top of mind.

    The success and profile of the AFLW inaugural season presents us with an opportunity to challenge some of the norms of our thinking and our language.

    Growing up, I was told that I couldn’t do certain things because of my gender. Things like ‘you’re not tough enough to play footy’, ‘AFL is for men’, and ‘shouldn’t you be doing something more ladylike?’ At the time, I just laughed it off.

    I now understand through my role as an ambassador for national youth campaign The Line, how powerful language can be in reinforcing gender stereotypes and undermining women’s achievements. “You play well… for a girl” is a good example of that.

    I want to help young people to break free from the restrictive stereotypes and encourage them to explore their true passions, talents and interests, regardless of their gender.

    I love that my game is a progressive and tolerant force in our society, and I want to do my bit to fight sexist attitudes so that young girls can follow in my footsteps without facing some of the barriers that I have encountered along the way.

    Through my passion for playing this game, I have been given a platform to showcase that women are awesome and can do anything they want to do.

    The creation of the AFLW is a wonderful, historic step for women in sport, but we’ve got a long way to go… and we’re ready for the challenge.

    Chelsea Randall plays for the Adelaide Crows in the AFLW and is a proud ambassador for The Line campaign. The Line is a national evidence-based campaign for 12 to 20 years that encourages young people to develop healthy and equal relationships with a view to preventing violence against women and their children.