Now that all the pre-season hype and mass publicity for the second season – be it a whole seven-match program for the AFLW – has subsided, let’s take a good look at where this competition really is at.
Despite a promise that they, the players, are “fitter, faster and stronger” it is obvious that, in the elapsed 12 months, they certainly have not become more skilled.
Basically, nothing has changed from the first season and that is of great concern to their singular financial backer, the AFL. Indeed, of such concern to the AFL that they sent directives to all club franchises and coaches that they were to play a more open, attacking style, in the hope of increasing the attractiveness and scoring in the matches.
Despite this directive, little improvement has been achieved.
Compare and contrast last weekend’s AFLW and AFL matches. In the AFLW Round 5: Melbourne (4.10) defeated Brisbane Lions (4.4), a total of 22 scoring shots, Greater Western Sydney (6.3) defeated Fremantle Dockers (3.3), 15 scoring shots, while Adelaide Crows (8.7) defeated Carlton Blues (2.8), a massive 25 scoring shots!
Meanwhile, in the AFL JLT series, the Western Bulldogs (15.10) defeated Hawthorn (11.12), 48 scoring shots, and Sydney (14.11) defeated Brisbane (5.10), 40 scoring shots.
Chalk and cheese! And this is despite the facts the women have fewer players, on a smaller oval and with a smaller football.
Put bluntly, the reason for this discrepancy is that the AFLW players do not have the football skills to improve the standard of their competition.
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The major contributing factors for this inability to score is a lack of aerobic capacity and body strength, as well as poor kicking and handball disposal skills.
The girls go to ground far too often and seemingly have little ability to control the ball if it is below knee level. These factors result in the development of the ‘pack mentality’, with the ball rarely moving freely and into open space.
They show plenty of courage and commitment to compete against one another, but this doesn’t raise the standard of their performances to an acceptable level.
It is insulting and embarrassing to hear TV commentators talking up the AFLW game as if it is as good and exciting as the AFL. It sure ain’t that!
Despite free entry to matches, attendances are already heading south and will continue to do so until the skill levels dramatically improve.