As AFLW prepares to kick off its third season, tens of thousands of girls and women are already proving the value in having a league of their own.
Figures from the soon-to-be-released 2018 AFL participation census reveal that girls are tackling the sport with great enthusiasm.
According to the census results, before AFLW elbowed its way into public consciousness in 2017 there were just 960 female football teams registered in Australia.
After the inaugural AFLW season, that figure climbed 76 per cent to 1690 teams, and in 2018 that figure rose another 35 per cent to 2281.
“It’s a significant growth, and it’s not just young girls, but women are also contributing to this significant growth, because they look at our league and think, ‘I can give that a crack,” said AFLW CEO Nicole Livingstone.
“Our players are so diverse and unique — role models and heroes that girls can see and connect with and think, ‘She’s like me’.”
While the grassroots level of the game has certainly been turbocharged, Livingstone says she is passionate about not only championing girls’ participation, but also to stay in the sport.
“I came from a sport where it was very clear what stepping stones you needed to take to get to the top, so we have to invest in national talent pathways,” she said. The addition of two new clubs, Geelong and North Melbourne, to the league this year will also introduce more fans to the sport.
“One of the wonderful things about AFLW is the strength of the AFL,” she says.