Mary’s Wonder Women: Leaked memos and the cost of a competition

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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18 Have your say

    At 7pm tonight, AFLW returns to Sydney when the Giants take on Carlton at Drummoyne Oval.

    After last year’s scheduling debacle, which saw Greater Western Sydney play a game played at Blacktown International Sports Park at 5pm on a Friday night (who can get to Blacktown at 5pm on a Friday?), I welcome this time slot and hope to see plenty of people at the game.

    There has been some criticism of the standard of play for AFLW this week, particularly following the allegedly ‘leaked’ memo which went to all the AFLW coaches earlier, asking them to rethink strategy to produce higher-scoring games.

    Two areas were particularly highlighted: congestion around stoppages and defensive flooding.

    My gut feel is that this memo was crafted following the opening game of the season between Carlton and Collingwood – a low-scoring affair that ended with Carlton victorious 3.4.22 to 2.2.14.

    It’s absolutely fair to appropriately critique the standard of play against the standard which has already been set by the competition.

    However, asking coaches to prepare their teams in a certain way is disingenuous, does not allow the game to develop naturally and at its own pace, and does not take into account any of the other results on the weekend, which saw much higher scores than in the inaugural season.

    Isn’t it also a slight overreaction to pen such a memo after only one weekend of the competition? I’m used to below-par games in all the codes I follow every now and again. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to allow things to get into full swing before telling experts how to coach?

    Let’s see what Round 2 will bring – I hope to see plenty of you out there at Drummoyne tonight!

    Amanda Farrugia

    Amanda Farrugia leads her team through the banner. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Rugby league
    The NRL announcing its women’s competition in December last year demonstrated just how far women playing the game had come in a short space of time.

    In 2017 we saw the Australian Jillaroos beat the New Zealand Ferns on every occasion that they met (including at the Auckland Nines and at the Test match in May).

    Several Jillaroos made their debut last year, including Jessica Sergis and Talesha Quinn. The Tarsha Gale Nines was launched and the Cronulla Sharks began their own 9s competition. Additionally, Ruan Sims penned a deal with the Sharks, becoming the first woman to sign a professional NRL contract.

    The cherry on top was Australia beating New Zealand 23-16 in the Rugby League World Cup Final to be crowned champions.

    This year, there is plenty to look forward to, including 40 Jillaroos to be contracted, a new women’s competition, and the transformation of the Interstate Challenge into State of Origin.

    Ruan Sims of the Jillaroos (left) palms off a tackle by Maitua Feterika of the Kiwi Ferns

    Ruan Sims of the Jillaroos. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    In terms of the new competition, we are at a stage where NRL clubs have been asked to submit an expression of interest for a team by mid-February.

    As many of you know, I support Parramatta, but I found myself thinking when the competition was announced that I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Eels did not field a team.

    I know how much preparation, infrastructure and careful thinking an additional team means for a club. So while I want the Eels to have a team and be supportive of women who want to play rugby league, I would completely understand if they didn’t think they were ready by 2018 – particularly when I know there are other clubs (like the Sharks and St George Illawarra Dragons) in a much stronger position and more advanced on their journey.

    The Newcastle Knights were another club I thought would be well ahead in preparing for potential inclusion – particularly considering how many current Jillaroos are from the area, like Isabelle Kelly, Caitlin Moran and Bec Young.

    The Knights have submitted an expression of interest, but it will all hinge on whether entering a team will be cost effective.

    This suggests Newcastle (and other clubs) may not have been as progressed on the journey as I thought. Wests Group and Knights chief executive Phil Gardner says he expects a women’s team to cost the club $500,000 – coming on top of what’s to be spent on their NSW Cup team and under 16s and 18s squads.

    While I see a women’s team as a worthy investment, I can completely understand this perspective, particularly in an environment where most clubs operate at a loss.

    I am thrilled the NRL has announced a women’s competition but it is so important that this is done right. I am confident the governing body will work with the interested clubs to ensure they are supported and set up for success.

    But if the clubs need financially backing, this is also a great opportunity for sponsors to raise their hands. We hear so much about how this is a ‘watershed’ time for women in sport, so isn’t it time corporate Australia started to put some money behind it too?

    It’s time for some big talkers to walk the walk.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • February 9th 2018 @ 7:47am
      Onside said | February 9th 2018 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      The excellent professional commentary disguises AFLW’s shortcomings.

      Turn off the sound of commentators waxing lyrical, fabricating a sense
      of sporting tension, and it’s obvious the emperor’s wardrobe is sparce.

      The commentators are doing their job , they talk the talk, but …………..

      • February 9th 2018 @ 8:16am
        Maggie said | February 9th 2018 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        I suggest you read Joel Shepherd‘s incisive article in the second column of today’s Roar.

      • February 9th 2018 @ 10:55am
        Kangajets said | February 9th 2018 @ 10:55am | ! Report

        You would think in the professional era , footy players would be more skilled, …but it’s become just like watching a rugby scrum these days .

        • February 9th 2018 @ 1:54pm
          Onside said | February 9th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

          That’s not the problem Kangajets. Skills in all sports must be instinctive, and that
          mindset can only be acquired after years of playing any game from an early age.

          The majority of AFLW players do not have that attribute, or most certainly not the
          necessary level of instinctiveness required to play at an elite level.

          It is not just a matter of athlete ability, or players going from one sport to another.

          Imagine if you will, the unrealistic expectation of the cream of AFLW players trying
          to play soccer at a standard that could be broadcast on TV after just a few months
          of training , having never played the game as a kid.

          All players , male or female, will fail in any game, if under pressure they have to
          think and be aware of the move they are going to attempt.

          We all want to see womens sport flourish, but it takes a long time to master a code.

    • Roar Guru

      February 9th 2018 @ 8:56am
      mds1970 said | February 9th 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      It was a bizarre memo. It’s one thing to encourage a more attacking game, but it’s not something the league can really mandate. And an over-reaction – the Carlton v Collingwood game wasn’t a great game, but most of the other games last weekend were pretty good.
      At least when they’re low-scoring they’re close. Less chance of a massive blowout.

      See you at Drummoyne tonight!!

      • February 9th 2018 @ 10:52am
        Kangajets said | February 9th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        Demetiou tried that approach with Paul Roos back at the swans .

        Roos is to blame for the tedious unskilled congestion we see now in footy .

        Hopefully footy will turn full circle and become more open and skilful again soon.

      • February 9th 2018 @ 2:45pm
        Blue said | February 9th 2018 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

        The league is an AFL construct designed primarily to create AFL-branded media content in the off-season and secondarily to encourage interest in the sport. The AFL own it, they have the right to shape it however they see fit. A 3-goals-to-2 game followed by another where a team doesn’t score a goal for three quarters shows a competition that clearly has problems and needs guidance.

        None of the commentators criticising the AFL have put a nickel into the league. Anyone who wants to go a different way is totally free to start up their own competition.

    • February 9th 2018 @ 10:50am
      Kangajets said | February 9th 2018 @ 10:50am | ! Report


      I love your passion for women sport

      Maybe you get the chance to see

      Sydney FC v Newcastle in the W league finals ….. there are abt 8 internationals in the 2 teams

      The other final is Brisbane Roar v Melbourne City who are defending champions.

      Worth a look if you are in either city or televisised on sbs world game app or viceland or Fox Sports.


    • February 9th 2018 @ 10:54am
      Onside said | February 9th 2018 @ 10:54am | ! Report

      AFLW is an example of ‘build it and they will come’. And yes supporters are indeed coming.

      However, behind the scenes is a hungry television industry, desperate for sporting content.

      AFLW fits that bill, so much so, replays of last weeks games have been shown throughout
      the week on a continuous loop on Fox Footy Chanel and Fox 503.

      At a guess (I have no idea ) every game might have been replayed a dozen times, maybe 20.

      Add to that, the undeniable wealth and influence of the most successful sporting body in the
      country, the AFL, and you can start to realise that there is so much at stake.

      Will supporters eventually pay to watch AFLW as a stand alone sport ? ; only time will tell.

      • February 9th 2018 @ 11:50am
        I ate pies said | February 9th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        You do realise that that’s a dedicated footy channel don’t you? There’s no other games on so they have to fill the space somehow.

        • February 9th 2018 @ 1:08pm
          Onside said | February 9th 2018 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

          Yeah, I get that, but 503 has also been swamped with AFLW.

          I use it only to make the point that TV sports chanels need a
          lot of product, that inturn help underpin the growth in AFLW.

          • February 9th 2018 @ 1:38pm
            I ate pies said | February 9th 2018 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

            Fair enough. They seem to have too many channels, and they just repeat the same thing over and over.

        • Roar Pro

          February 9th 2018 @ 1:50pm
          anon said | February 9th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

          A few weeks ago they were showing games from the 80’s and 90’s.

          If AFLW didn’t exist they’d still be showing games from the 80’s and 90’s.

          I’d like to see how many Foxtel subscriptions have been bought because of Foxtel’s exclusive coverage of AFLW.

          Wall-to-wall coverage on Foxtel, national FTA coverage, subsidised free entry to games.

    • February 9th 2018 @ 5:38pm
      Aligee said | February 9th 2018 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

      FReo V Collingwood

      Probably an Australian record for Australian womens sport in Perth will be set, 50.000 tickets sold yesterday apparently.

      Although only $2 a ticket and a shiny new stadium that everyone wants to see and of course see Collingwood lose.

      Besides that, it is a pretty good effort for women’s sport, in fact a fantastic effort.

    • Roar Guru

      February 9th 2018 @ 6:56pm
      pformagg said | February 9th 2018 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

      The issue is the audience is comparing AFLW to AFL, and rightly so because we have had 150+ years of AFL. You can’t expect the same level of intensity and “skill” from female athletes as you can from their male counterparts in a game that is suited to the male biology. Maybe AFLW should have gone the way of the WBBL, and had smaller grounds, thus giving the game a chance to have that high intensity feel?

      • February 9th 2018 @ 7:37pm
        I ate pies said | February 9th 2018 @ 7:37pm | ! Report

        Maybe they should have started it as an amateur competition, befitting the skill of the players, rather than pretending that it’s ‘elite’.

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