|Most recent season or competition:|
2021 AFL Women's season
|Sport||Australian rules football|
|Founded||15 September 2016,|
|No. of teams||14|
|Headquarters||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Brisbane (1st premiership)|
|Most titles||Adelaide (2 premierships)|
|Sponsor(s)||NAB, Chemist Warehouse|
| AFL |
AFLW Under 18 Championships
|Official website|| womens|
AFL Women's (AFLW) is Australia's national semi-professional Australian rules football league for female players. The first season of the league in February and March 2017 had 8 teams; the league expanded to ten teams in the 2019 season and 14 teams in the 2020 season. The league is run by the Australian Football League (AFL) and is contested by a subset of clubs from that competition. The reigning premiers are Brisbane.
In 2010 the Australian Football League commissioned a report into the state of women's football around the country.Along with findings concerning grassroots and junior football, the report recommended the AFL Commission begin working toward the establishment of a national women's league. While the option of new stand-alone clubs was considered, a model using the resources and branding of existing AFL clubs was to be the preferred model for the planned league.
The first on-field step towards the competition took place in 2013, when the AFL announced an exhibition match to be played between women's teams representing Melbourne and Western Bulldogs in June that year. The historic match had a crowd of 7,518 and was won by Melbourne by 35 points.
On 15 May 2013, the first women's draft was held, establishing the playing lists for the two clubs in the forthcoming exhibition match.The match was played on 29 June 2013 and marked the first time two women's sides had competed under the banners of AFL clubs. The exhibition series was repeated with one game between the clubs in 2014 and two in 2015, the last of which, played on 16 August 2015, was the first women's AFL game to be broadcast on free-to-air television. It attracted an average audience of 175,000 which outweighed the 114,000 average audience for the AFL men's clash between Adelaide and Essendon of the previous day.
The success of these exhibition matches prompted the AFL to accelerate its plans for a nationwide women's competition, announcing a preferred start date of 2017.Prior to this, the league had announced only aspirational plans to have the women's competition established by 2020. The already-planned 2016 exhibition series was expanded at this time, with a total of ten matches to be played in venues across the country and featuring a range of new temporary representative teams.
In 2016, the AFL opened a process for existing clubs to tender applications to join the new competition. The eighteen clubs in the men's Australian Football League had until 29 April 2016 to place a bid for a licence, with thirteen clubs making bids. These were Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, Geelong, Greater Western Sydney, Melbourne, North Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs.The AFL's preferred distribution of clubs was four clubs from Victoria and one each from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
The inaugural teams were announced on 8 June 2016. As the only teams to bid in their respective states, Adelaide, Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney were granted licences to compete in 2017.Both Western Australian clubs made bids, with Fremantle's bid chosen ahead of West Coast's. Eight Victorian clubs made bids: Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, Carlton and Collingwood were successful, with Geelong, North Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda unsuccessful. All five unsuccessful bidders were granted provisional licences.
Details about the branding of the league were released in the second half of 2016. The AFL announced that the league would be named "AFL Women's" or AFLW for short, on 15 September 2016, with the logo being unveiled on 19 September 2016.The logo is a stylised rendition of an Australian rules football ground goal square and goal posts, drawn from a perspective which shows a "W". On 10 October 2016, the National Australia Bank was named as the league's naming rights sponsor.
The first premiership game was played on Friday, 3 February 2017at Ikon Park. The AFL had initially planned to host the game at Melbourne's Olympic Park Oval, with a capacity of just 7,000, but was forced to change the venue to Ikon Park due to overwhelming interest and a lack of adequate seating. The match was deemed a "lockout" with a capacity crowd of 24,568 in attendance, with a few thousand estimated to have been waiting outside. As a result, Gillon McLachlan, the AFL's CEO, personally apologised to those who missed out. The game was also a great success on TV, attracting a national TV audience of 896,000 including 593,000 metropolitan free-to-air viewers, 180,000 regional free-to-air viewers and 123,000 on Fox Footy. The Melbourne metropolitan audience of 424,000 was on par with that of Friday night AFL men's matches.
The inaugural season concluded with the Grand Final held on Saturday, 25 March 2017. The Adelaide Crows were crowned the league's first premiers after defeating minor premiers the Brisbane Lions. The scoreline read Adelaide 4.11 (35) def. Brisbane 4.5 (29).
Expansion of the competition occurred in two instalments, with two clubs added in 2019 and four in 2020, to result in 14 teams in total. The ten AFL clubs not originally participating in the competition were invited to bid for inclusion, with priority given to the five clubs that unsuccessfully bid to participate in the inaugural season.The deadline to lodge submissions was 16 June 2017. The only clubs not to bid were Port Adelaide and Sydney. North Melbourne worked with AFL Tasmania to craft its bid, with the club aiming to play home matches in Melbourne, Hobart and Launceston, and also select half of its playing list from Tasmania. A final decision on which clubs are admitted to the competition was expected by the end of July 2017 but was delayed several times to September 2017.
On 27 September 2017, the AFL announced that North Melbourne and Geelong had been selected to come into the competition in 2019.North Melbourne retained its commitment to playing matches in Tasmania. The league then expanded an additional four teams in 2020, with the AFL selecting West Coast, Richmond, Gold Coast and St Kilda to join the competition. The growth in clubs was accompanied by the introduction of American-style conferences for the 2019 season, further details of which can be found in the season structure section of this article. The conferences were abandoned in favour of the traditional single ladder ahead of the 2021 season. The 2020 season was curtailed and eventually cancelled without a premiership awarded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Club||Entry in 2017||Entry in 2019/20|
|Greater Western Sydney||Yes||Yes||N/A|
The competition's fourteen teams are based across five states of Australia. Eight are based in Victoria (seven in the Melbourne metropolitan area), Queensland and Western Australia have two teams each and New South Wales and South Australia have one team each. Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Tasmania are the only states or territories not to have AFL Women's teams, however North Melbourne has a formalised partnership with Tasmania, which enables the club to draft players from and play home games there.
|Adelaide||Crows||South Australia||Norwood Oval||—||2016||2017+||5||2||2019|
|Fremantle||Dockers||Western Australia||Fremantle Oval||2016||2016||2017+||5||0||—|
|Gold Coast||Suns||Queensland||Carrara Stadium||2016||2019||2020||2||0||—|
|Greater Western Sydney||Giants||New South Wales||Blacktown ISP Oval||2016||2016||2017+||5||0||—|
|North Melbourne||Kangaroos||Victoria & Tasmania^||Arden Street Oval||—||2018||2019||3||0||—|
|Richmond||Tigers||Victoria||Punt Road Oval||—||2019||2020||2||0||—|
|St Kilda||Saints||Victoria||Moorabbin Oval||—||2019||2020||2||0||—|
|West Coast||Eagles||Western Australia||Lathlain Park||2016||2019||2020||2||0||—|
|Western Bulldogs||Bulldogs||Victoria||Whitten Oval||2013||2013*||2017+||5||1||2018|
|^ denotes that the club has a formalised partnership with this state or territory|
* denotes that the club had a foundation women's team
+ denotes that the club was a founding member of the AFLW
Below are the venues that were going to be used during the 2021 AFL Women's season before the fixture changed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
|Arden Street Oval||Melbourne||North Melbourne||5,000||2|
|Blacktown ISP Oval||Sydney||Greater Western Sydney||10,000||3|
|Carrara Stadium||Gold Coast, Queensland||Gold Coast||25,000||4|
|Fremantle Oval||Perth, Western Australia||Fremantle||17,500||4|
|The Gabba||Brisbane, Queensland||Brisbane||42,000||1|
|Hickey Park||Brisbane, Queensland||Brisbane||5,000||4|
|Kardinia Park||Geelong, Victoria||Geelong||36,000||4|
|Lathlain Park||Perth, Western Australia||West Coast||15,000||5|
|Manuka Oval||Canberra, Australian Capital Territory||Greater Western Sydney||16,000||1|
|Moorabbin Oval||Melbourne||St Kilda||10,000||4|
|North Hobart Oval||Hobart, Tasmania||North Melbourne||18,000||1|
|Norwood Oval||Adelaide, South Australia||Adelaide||22,000||5|
|Punt Road Oval||Melbourne||Richmond||5,000||4|
|Ray Mitchell Oval||Mackay, Queensland||Gold Coast||10,000||1|
|Sydney Showground Stadium||Sydney||Greater Western Sydney||24,000||1|
|Whitten Oval||Melbourne||Western Bulldogs||12,000||4|
|York Park||Launceston, Tasmania||North Melbourne||21,000||1|
The club's playing lists were constructed from scratch through the later stages of 2016. All participants in the 2017 season are required to be over the age of 17.
Initially, clubs were asked to nominate a list of desired players, with the AFL assigning two of these "marquee" players to each club. In addition, clubs were able to sign a number of players with existing connections to the club, or with arrangements for club sponsored work or study.This number varied for each club, in an attempt to equitably spread talent across the teams. In addition, clubs were required to recruit two "rookies" – people with no Australian rules football experience in the previous three-year period. The majority of players were later recruited through the 2016 AFL Women's draft. The balance of list spots was filled with free-agent signings in the week following the draft. In total clubs have a 27 active listed players in addition to injury replacements signed to take the spot of long-term injury affected players.
The current collective bargaining agreement, in place until the end of the 2022 season, has total player payments per club of $576,240 in 2020 and $717,122 in 2022.Players are split into four tiers.
The rules are mostly the same as men's AFL, with a few exceptions. For 2019, the main differences were: the women used a slightly smaller ball; played shorter quarters (15 minutes instead of 20); had 16 on the field at a time (instead of 18); 5 interchange players, and no limit on the number of player rotations (instead of 4 interchange players, and 90 total rotations).
Other differences for 2019 were throw-ins were 10 metres in from the boundary; and a "last touch" out-of-bounds rule applies, except within the 50-metre arcs. During 2018, the "last touch" rule applied everywhere.
Prior to the commencement of the home-and-away season teams are paired off to play an exhibition trial match. In 2017 these matches took place during varying weeks of January.
For the first two seasons of competition, the home-and-away season was operated on a single table and seven matches were played by each of the eight teams. The two highest placed teams at the conclusion of the home-and-away season qualified for the Grand Final match, in the absence of a longer finals series.
With the addition of two extra teams in 2019, the AFL Women's home-and-away season introduced conferences, a concept not common in Australian sports.The top two teams from the respective conferences qualified to the preliminary finals, with the first-ranked team in Conference A meeting the second-ranked team in Conference B and the opposite employed for the other preliminary final. The winners of those matches then met in the Grand Final.
The use of conferences was retained in 2020, along with the inclusion of four additional teams. The fourteen teams were split into two conferences of seven, with teams playing each other team in their conference once. The top four teams in each conference qualified for the finals series. The first round of the finals consisted of four knockout finals, with teams from opposite conferences playing against each other: first in Conference A versus fourth in Conference B, and so on. This left a final four of North Melbourne, Fremantle, Carlton and Melbourne, with two rounds of finals to be played. At this point the season was abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with no 2020 premier.
In 2021, the league reverted to a single 14-team ladder. Each team played nine matches, with the top six qualifying for a three-week finals series. All finals are knockouts, with the top two teams having a bye in the first round of the finals.
The following major individual awards and accolades are presented each season:
In its inaugural 2017 season, all matches were televised live by affiliate partners the Seven Network and Fox Footy.As part of the initial broadcast deal, the free-to-air carrier Seven broadcast one Saturday night game per week as standard, in addition to the league's opening match and Grand Final. Pay TV network Fox Footy televised all premiership season matches, including simulcasts of the Seven-hosted matches other than the Grand Final. The two television networks covered the costs of broadcasting these matches, with no licensing fee payable to the league in exchange.
The official internet/mobile broadcast partner of the AFL is BigPond, part of Telstra. The company hosts the league website as well as those of each of the eight participation clubs. The AFL has retained digital broadcast rights to matches in the league's inaugural season and will stream all matches live and free on the league website and mobile app.
Outside Australia, the inaugural season is available on Watch AFL.
The National Australia Bank is the league's inaugural and (as of 2019) current naming rights partner.
All playing and training equipment as well as all licensed apparel and hats for the league's clubs are manufactured by Cotton On.
Other 2017 league sponsors included Wolf Blass, Chemist Warehouse and Kellogg's.
The official ball supplier is Sherrin.
Official match day attire together with other club merchandise is sold through the AFL's stores and website as well through the clubs and through some retailers.
Prior to the creation of the league, the AFL ran four years of exhibition matches between sides representing Melbourne and Western Bulldogs. In 2016, the series was expanded to multiple teams from around the country.
|2013 exhibition game|
|Sunday, 30 June||Melbourne 8.5 (53)||def.||Western Bulldogs 3.3 (21)||MCG (crowd: 7,500)||Match report|
|2014 exhibition game|
|Sunday, 29 June||Western Bulldogs 4.2 (26)||def. by||Melbourne 10.12 (72)||Etihad Stadium (crowd: 24,953 (D/H))||Match report|
|2015 exhibition series|
|Sunday, 24 May||Melbourne 4.13 (37)||def.||Western Bulldogs 4.5 (29)||MCG (crowd: 29,381 (D/H))||Match report|
|Sunday, 16 August||Western Bulldogs 5.6 (36)||def. by||Melbourne 6.4 (40)||Etihad Stadium (crowd: 27,805 (D/H))||Match report|
|2016 exhibition series|
|Sunday, 2 March||Melbourne 3.3 (21)||def. by||Western Bulldogs 6.5 (41)||Highgate Recreational Reserve||Match report|
|Saturday, 2 April||SANFL Blue 5.4 (34)||def.||SANFL Red 5.2 (32)||Adelaide Oval (crowd: 51,585 (D/H))||Match report|
|Saturday, 9 April||Sydney 9.8 (62)||def.||Greater Western Sydney 5.3 (33)||SCG (crowd: 37,045 (D/H))||Match report|
|Saturday, 9 April||West Coast 13.10 (88)||def.||Fremantle 3.5 (23)||Domain Stadium (crowd: 40,555 (D/H))||Match report|
|Sunday, 10 April||Northern Territory 13.11 (89)||def.||Tasmania 7.11 (53)||Peanut Reserve||Match report|
|Saturday, 16 April||Brisbane 5.8 (38)||def.||Gold Coast 3.6 (24)||Gabba (crowd: 20,041 (D/H))||Match report|
|Sunday, 22 May||Melbourne 14.7 (91)||def.||Brisbane 3.2 (20)||MCG (crowd: 26,892 (D/H))||Match report|
|Sunday, 5 June||Western Bulldogs 8.5 (53)||def.||Western Australia 5.10 (40)||Etihad Stadium (crowd: 28,769 (D/H))||Match report|
|Sunday, 5 June||South Australia 4.3 (27)||def.||NSW/ACT 3.7 (25)||Adelaide Oval (crowd: 40,896 (D/H))||Match report|
|Saturday, 3 September||Western Bulldogs 14.6 (90)||def.||Melbourne 7.9 (51)||Whitten Oval (crowd: 6,365)||Match report|
|Club||Years in |
|Premierships||Runners up||Premiership |
|Runner up |
|Brisbane Lions||2017–present||1||2||2021||2017, 2018|
The best and fairest award determined in the same way as the Brownlow Medal for men, with umpires award 3, 2, and 1 votes to the best three players in each game, and suspended players ineligible.
|2018||Emma Kearney||Western Bulldogs|
|2021|| Brianna Davey |
The MVP award is voted on by the players' peers, in a similar method to the Leigh Matthews Trophy for men.
|2018||Courtney Gum||GWS Giants|
|2020||Jasmine Garner||North Melbourne|
|2018||Brooke Lochland||Western Bulldogs||12|
|2020||Caitlin Greiser||St Kilda||10|
|2021||Darcy Vescio (2)||Carlton||16|
The Adelaide Football Club, nicknamed the Crows, is a professional Australian rules football club based in Adelaide, South Australia. The club was founded in 1990. The club has fielded a men's team in the Australian Football League (AFL) since 1991, and a women's team in the AFL Women's (AFLW) competition since 2017. The club's offices and training facilities are at Football Park in the western Adelaide suburb of West Lakes, the site of the club's old home ground between 1991 and 2013. Since 2014 Adelaide have played home matches at the Adelaide Oval, a 53,500-seat stadium located a few hundred metres north of the Adelaide CBD. The club song is "The Pride of South Australia", to the tune of the US Marines' Hymn.
Women's Australian rules football, also known simply as women's football or women's footy, is a form of Australian rules football played by women, generally with some modification to the laws of the game.
Jenna McCormick is a professional Australian sportswoman who plays soccer for Australian W-League club Melbourne City and has played Australian rules football for the Adelaide Football Club in the AFL Women's (AFLW) competition.
Darcy Vescio is an Australian rules footballer playing for the Carlton Football Club in the AFL Women's competition. As a heavily marketed marquee player, Vescio has been referred to as a "household name" in Australia by ESPN.
Kara Antonio is an Australian rules footballer playing for the Fremantle Football Club in the AFL Women's competition.
The 2017 AFL Women's season was the first season of the elite women's Australian rules football competition. Eight teams competed in the league, all of which are associated with existing Australian Football League (AFL) clubs. The first game was played on Friday, 3 February, and the season concluded with the grand final on Saturday, 25 March.
Lauren Arnell is a retired Australian rules footballer who played for Carlton and the Brisbane Lions in the AFL Women's competition. She served as Carlton's inaugural AFLW team captain in the 2017 season and won the 2021 premiership with the Brisbane Lions.
Chelsea Randall is an Australian rules footballer playing for the Adelaide Football Club in the AFL Women's competition. She is one of the club's inaugural AFLW team co-captains.
Ebony Marinoff is an Australian rules footballer playing for the Adelaide Football Club in the AFL Women's (AFLW). Marinoff was named the inaugural AFL Women's Rising Star winner in 2017, and is a dual AFL Women's premiership player and three-time AFL Women's All-Australian. She also won a premiership with Darebin in the VFL Women's (VFLW) in 2017, represented The Allies in the inaugural AFL Women's State of Origin match later that year and won the Adelaide Club Champion award in 2021.
Sarah Perkins is an Australian rules footballer who plays for the Gold Coast Suns in the AFL Women's competition. She previously played 20 matches at Adelaide and Melbourne.
Emma Michelle Kearney is an Australian rules footballer and cricketer. She plays for and captains the North Melbourne Football Club in the AFL Women's (AFLW) and plays for the Melbourne Stars in the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL).
Melissa Hickey is a former Australian rules footballer who played for the Melbourne Football Club and the Geelong Football Club in the AFL Women's (AFLW). She served as Geelong captain in the club's first two AFL Women's seasons. She also played in the Victorian Women's Football League/VFL Women's for eleven seasons, representing the St Albans Spurs, Darebin and Geelong. In the VWFL/VFLW, Hickey won seven premierships, represented Victoria on three occasions and featured in the VFL Women's team of the year.
The Brisbane Lions' 2017 season was the club's 21st season in the Australian Football League (AFL) and 1st in AFL Women's (AFLW).
Karen Paxman is an Australian rules footballer playing for the Melbourne Football Club in the AFL Women's (AFLW). A defender, 1.70 metres (5.6 ft) tall, Paxman plays primarily on the half-back line with the ability to push into the midfield. She first played football at sixteen years of age and won a premiership and league best and fairest in her first year. She played in the premier division of the Victorian Women's Football League (VWFL) from the 2009 season and won three VWFL premierships with St Albans and the Darebin Falcons, in addition to a VFL Women's premiership with Darebin. Her accolades in football include three league best and fairest, state representation on four occasions, featuring in the VFL Women's team of the year and is a five-time All-Australian.
Courtney Cramey is a former Australian rules footballer who played 20 matches over four seasons at the Adelaide Football Club in the AFL Women's competition. She was a two-time premiership player and a one-time All-Australian.
Angela Foley is an Australian rules footballer playing for the Adelaide Football Club in the AFL Women's (AFLW). A defender, 1.73 metres (5.7 ft) tall, Foley plays primarily on the half-back line with the ability to push into the midfield. After spending her early life in country Victoria, in which she won a premiership and best and fairest with Bendigo Thunder, she moved to Darwin in 2013. Her career in the Northern Territory saw her win three consecutive premierships, two consecutive league best and fairests, a grand final best on ground medal, and interstate representation.
Georgia Bevan is an Australian rules footballer who played for Adelaide and the Gold Coast in the AFL Women's (AFLW) competition. After playing softball as a teenager she changed sports to football. After playing for Morphettville Park Football Club in the South Australian Women's Football League and winning three consecutive premierships with the club, she was drafted by Adelaide in the inaugural AFLW draft and was a member of their premiership winning team in the 2017 AFL Women's Grand Final. In 2021 she was signed as an injury replacement player by the Gold Coast and was delisted at the end of the season.
Abbey Holmes is an Australian rules footballer who played for the Adelaide Football Club in the AFL Women's (AFLW). She began playing football for the Waratah Football Club in the Northern Territory Football League in 2012 and won four consecutive premierships with the club, along with being the league's leading goalkicker the same four seasons. In 2014, she became the first woman to kick 100 goals in a season in an established football league, and in 2016 she was drafted in the inaugural AFL Women's draft by Adelaide.
The 2019 AFL Women's season was the third season of the elite women's Australian rules football competition. Ten teams competed in the league, two more than the previous season, all of which are associated with existing Australian Football League (AFL) clubs. To accommodate the extra teams a conference system was implemented.
The 2019 season was Geelong Football Club's first in the AFL Women's (AFLW) competition. Geelong joined the league as an expansion club alongside North Melbourne, having initially been denied entry into the competition's first season in 2017. Paul Hood was the club's inaugural senior coach, and Melissa Hickey was appointed club captain.
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