AFL Women’s: Riding the change of seasons

Chelsea Randall Roar Guru

By Chelsea Randall, Chelsea Randall is a Roar Guru New author!


13 Have your say

    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.

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • June 20th 2017 @ 6:01am
      jeff dustby said | June 20th 2017 @ 6:01am | ! Report

      women have been playing both rugby codes and football for decades.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 9:13am
        northerner said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        Men have been playing rugby and football for decades too. But guess, what, not all men and not all woman want to play rugby and football. Some want to play tennis or League or even AFL. It’s nice that women as well as men now have that choice.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 10:28am
        Mickyo said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        No one is claiming to reinvent the wheel here, but AFAIK the first game recorded of women’s football was before ww1 in Kalgoorlie who also had a women’s league there in the 1920’s, I am sure there is probably recorded games from soccer or rugby before that, it is not really the point though.

        What was fantastic was how AFlw was taken to heart by the majority of football fan regardless of the standard.

        It is hardly the fault of the AFL or AFLW that it received such great and positive support, but no one is claiming it was the first and only women’s sport.

        The only people claiming that seem to be the standard chip on shoulder sour grape brigade.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 20th 2017 @ 8:24am
      Liam Clarkson said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      Great read, Chelsea.

      Being there on the day, I’ll admit to being disappointed my Lions couldn’t get over the top of your Crows, but the bigger picture is that the event itself outweighed who won and lost.

      It’s fantastic to see how far women’s footy has come after a single AFLW season, both at a professional and grassroots level.

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2017 @ 8:29am
      mds1970 said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      Great article. And the growth in women’s footy has been pleasing to see.
      The author talks about the increase in numbers playing in Adelaide; and I’m seeing similar things in Sydney – where there are now 22 senior women’s teams. And I’m hearing from quite a few clubs that the challenge they face is not scrambling for numbers to field a full team every week but how to rotate their squads to give everyone enough game time. At least three clubs have already said they’ll be nominating a second women’s team next year.

      Congratulations to the author on being a part of the first AFLW flag team. A slice of history you will always have.
      Exciting times for our game.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 9:37am
        clipper said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        The problem is also finding enough grounds to play on in Sydney. Still, it’s better to be in that position than to see numbers decreasing.

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 11:05am
          mds1970 said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

          Absolutely. There’s never enough venues and some grounds are really showing signs of overuse and wear & tear – we’re only half way through the season and the grass is nearly all gone; so councils will close them when it rains.

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2017 @ 9:36am
      AdelaideDocker said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      Great article, Chelsea.

      I too love the way AFLW – and women’s footy in general – has grown so much in the space of 12 months. But there’s a lot more growth to come, and that’s exciting.

      Whilst I didn’t get to head down to any games, I do remember driving past Thebarton Oval a few times and seeing it simply full – bursting at the seams, almost – during the Crows’ couple of games there. Great stuff.

    • June 20th 2017 @ 9:42am
      JB said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

      Good on you Chelsea.
      My 9-year-old nephew was getting a hard time at school because he was the only boy in his class who didn’t play a sport – so he decided to play netball. Love that kid. And I love that he and his 5-year-old sister can play whatever they like.

    • June 20th 2017 @ 9:52am
      HK Jack said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      Hey Chelsea, good for you.

      My eldest daughter joined one of the teams in the Sydney Harbour Youth Girls Division this year and is loving it. I volunteered to help out on match days and was instantaneously installed at team manager. What has surprised me so far is:

      – The willingness of local clubs to follow AFL directives of teaching skills first and moving players around in their positions on match day rather than a win at all costs mentality
      – Clubs being happy to loan players to opposition teams to even up players numbers on match day and give everyone a go
      – Support from the mens/boy’s team teams to help out at training and willingness to do joint training sessions.

      One request that l do often get from the players is for players from the AFLW to come down to a training session. The girls would love to hear the stories and be able to run alongside their stars. We would love you to come down to a training if ever you were in Sydney and had the time.


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