AFL Announces 8 Women’s Teams For The Historic National League In 2017

It’s an absolutely huge day for the AFL, and for Australian sport in general. The league today officially lifted the lid on their historic, inaugural National Women’s League, which is set to take place for the first time ever in 2017.
The league unveiled the eight AFL sides that will field women’s teams in the inaugural competition, selected from the 13 bids submitted by existing AFL clubs.
At a press conference held this morning at the MCG, chairman of the AFL Commission Mike Fitzpatrick stated that “our game is on the cusp of changing forever, and for the better,” noting that participation for women in football across all grades and skill levels is currently growing at unprecedented levels.
“This day has been a long time coming. The number of women and girls playing club football has doubled over the past five years.”

“In 2015, there were 163 new women’s teams, and more than 315,000 women participating [in Australian rules football].”

He noted that the AFL had been “delighted” by the quality of the bids submitted by AFL teams, and the passion and desire they’ve expressed towards growing and developing the women’s game.
The AFL officially awarded licenses to the Adelaide Crows, Brisbane Lions, Carlton Blues, Collingwood Magpies, Fremantle DockersGWS Giants, Melbourne Demons, and Western Bulldogs, all of whom will field official AFL women’s teams for the knockout-style competition in 2017.
The remaining five teams who submitted bids (St Kilda, West Coast, Geelong, North Melbourne, and Richmond) have been granted provisional licenses, with a view to including all 13 teams in an expanded women’s competition from as early as 2018 onwards, pending the development of the National League.
The eight successful clubs have already begun heralding their new franchises on social media.

Fitzpatrick was at pains to stress that the competition will see the women’s teams compete in “official AFL jumpers” on “official AFL grounds,” and concluded the press conference by positively asserting “our game will never be the same.”

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, an absolutely massive day in the push for professional equality in Australian sport. Huge, historic times.
Go snap some boo-nah-na’s, legends!

Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty.