By Alesha Murfit
More than a century after the first official season of the Australian Football League, women were invited into the competition.
In the two years since the inaugural game, players and experts say the AFLW has faced more prejudice than most of their male counterparts clubs combined.
Despite being labelled a “man’s game” and “too rough” for women to participate in, those involved in the league work to beat the criticism through the way they compete and train for their games.
A current AFLW player for the Fremantle Dockers, who asked us not to identify her, says the sport has presented a lot of hurdles to those who compete in it.
“A challenge that I’ve experienced in my time is the criticism from the public… the women out there playing weren’t given the opportunity growing up to play AFL,” she said.
“The skills in the game are growing rapidly, as we’re trying hard to showcase our talent, and that we are capable”.
She also added that it often felt like playing was a privilege rather than a job, because of the low pay rates. She said there’s a constant need to prove to the public and the rest of the AFL that they can do it.
Editor of The Women’s Game news website Angela Bacic agrees: “…the inaugural AFL season… was in 1897 and the scores are relatively the same as what has been seen in the AFLW over the past three seasons.”
“Women are still trying to catch up, whether this is because the lack of pathways for girls when they were younger meaning they had to give up the sport until they could play again, or if it’s just our physical make up.”
“The sad part is that even if scores do get higher, I think this prejudice will always been an issue,” said Bacic.
She believed there will still be hate in the comment sections, regardless of the level of talent, commitment and triumph in the game.