The Roar
The Roar

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It's time women were embraced in the AFL

Jarrad McVeigh will be assessed on Wednesday.
Tegan Forder new author
Roar Rookie
8th November, 2014
48

I won my workplace footy tipping competition this year and no, I didn’t do it by picking my favourite team colours or closing my eyes and guessing.

I applied some thought and strategy. I kept up with the injury list and a team’s track record at certain grounds, and on the road. I did not listen to my partner’s views – if I had, then I probably would have finished last.

I spent most of the season at, or near, the top and took every opportunity to impart my knowledge and opinions about everything on and off the footy field.

Yes, knowledge. I think I’m pretty clued-up when it comes to football. I love watching it and talking about it.

I recently went on holiday to Vietnam and my partner and I watched all the preliminary finals on the now cancelled Australia Network. The point is I like football. So why can’t I know about football as well?

While gloating about my football tipping glory, a friend said my success was probably down to working in a dominantly female workforce. I think he was joking but the sentiment isn’t uncommon.

I’m tired of having my football opinions and analysis dismissed because I’m female. And yes, it does happen.

I’m not just pretending to like football to be the ‘cool girl’ for the sake of attracting male attention.
As one of two girls, my dad never treated us any differently than if he had boys when it came to watching and playing sport. We watched football together, analysed players performances and debated a coach’s merit.

While AFL clubs, and the AFL itself, are taking steps to improve their reputation with women, there is such a long way to go within the fan-base itself.

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This was evident this season with the abuse hurled at sports journalist Erin Riley after she dared raise concerns about racist language she heard at the grand final.

Any discussion of women being abused in an AFL context cannot ignore the constant criticism levelled at sports writer Caroline Wilson. I’m an Essendon supporter and there have been times I’ve been angry at her relentless pursuit of the club but she has been repeatedly vindicated.

Comments such as “women have no place in football” are a reminder that there is still a lot of ill-feeling towards women having anything to do with the nation’s most beloved sport.

Until women are allowed to have an opinion about football, then I don’t see how we can expect to see an increase of women at board level, or heaven forbid, coaching.