Awesome Football Ladies. Those are three words for which the letters AFL unofficially stand today, after the AFL unveiled the eight teams who will compete in the first year of the AFL national women's league in 2017.
Thirteen clubs bid for a license. Here are the eight that got the nod:
- Brisbane Lions
- Greater Western Sydney
- Western Bulldogs
The five who missed out (for now) were Geelong, West Coast, Richmond, North Melbourne, and St Kilda -- the first AFL club to appoint a female assistant coach. They may gain acceptance as soon as 2018. While there'll be disappointment at those clubs, the overall mood at the MCG was jubilant.
"This day has been a long time coming. The number of women and girls playing football has doubled over the last five years,'' AFL commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said at the launch of the league at the MCG on Wednesday.
"A fully fledged national competition with the best women players will grace AFL grounds, wearing AFL jumpers and representing passionate AFL tribes.
"The establishment of a national women's league will provide a platform to inspire young girls to reach for the stars and provide another avenue for Australian Rules fans to enjoy. Our game will never be the same.''
No, it won't. Which is terrific.
Women's Australian Rules football has been played since 1915, but it's only in the last two years that exhibition games have been played on major AFL grounds.
Here are some highlights of a couple of exhibition games played in 2015. At about the 30 second mark of the video, a commentator says a player "turned her man inside out". Commentators might want to work a little on their phrasing between now and the first bounce next year.
It's not yet confirmed when or where the majority of games will be played, or whether they'll be stand-alone matches or preludes to men's games. What we know is that women's footy is finally being taken seriously. And that's great news for women and girls of all ages.
"It's great to have the opportunity to play an elite sport out on an elite arena in a professional environment," Melbourne Demons captain Daisy Pearce said.
"But more so, to look around today and see those little girls who will grow up knowing that's something they can achieve is amazing."