The AFL is a long established name, with many products available in many an AFL online store, and plenty of promotions. Sister organisation, the AFLW, hasn’t been around as long, and doesn’t have as much behind it, though it is one of the biggest growing organisations in Australian sporting history.
The first two seasons saw 8 teams competing, while season 3 will see new additions, the Geelong Cats and the North Melbourne Kangaroos, which will see the league go to double digit team numbers. Season 4, to start in 2020, will see more expansion, up to 14 teams, closing in on the 18 in the men’s AFL competition.
The rapid expansion wasn’t welcomed by everyone, like former AFL 300-gamer Kane Cornes, who says that the competition has already gotten more investment than any other sport in the AU.
AFLW Carlton Blues star Darcy Vescio fired back, saying that the investment made by the AFL on the AFLW is not unwarranted, saying that women’s sport is asking for greater representation, advertisement and merchandising, to close out the gap between it and its older brother, with its many AFL online store and advertisements.
Instead, she argued that the AFLW needed to be ‘fast forwarded’, especially considering the numbers that the game has been generating following the league’s launch.
Within the AFLW’s first year, there were about 500,000 participants in the sport, accounting for 30% of all football players across all levels, with more than 1,500 teams being established within a year’s time as the AFL worked to expand the competition.
Vescio explained that the AFLW didn’t get a leg up, as four years ago, it straight up didn’t exist. She says that all women’s sports are looking to get better conditions, wanting to be seen as equals to the male counterparts. To that end, it needs to be put on fast forward, and a lot of investment is needed for the organisation, due, in part, to the fact it took far too long to be introduced.
She acknowledges the criticisms of the expansion the AFLW has made, but also noted that there’s great momentum for the sport, saying that the sport has developed so rapidly, where girls now have access to elite coaching and facilities, improving how players perform.
Vescio believes that the sport won’t be dipping in quality as it grows, but the next season will be a test. She says that, with more teams, current members will be spread out more, and, with the new blood joining the sport, it’ll be interesting.