Despite introducing more teams into the competition, there’s reports swirling this morning that AFL bosses are planning on handing the AFLW a shortened season in 2019, leading to calls that the league is simply not taking the elite women’s competition very seriously at all.
The Herald Sun is this morning reporting that, despite the competition expanding to 10 teams in season 2019, the amount of games each side will play will actually be less than what they played this year.
According to the reports, the AFLW season next year will feature six rounds of home-and-away games, with a two-week finals series. This is in contrast to this year’s season, which featured seven rounds of games with a standalone Grand Final at the end.
To make matters worse, the proposed season would be compacted into seven weeks – as opposed to the current eight – in order to take the Grand Final away from clashing with Round One of the men’s season.
Over the past two years, the AFLW Grand Final has been a centrepiece of the men’s Round One action. Under the new plan, it would be shifted a week earlier to its own fixture.
This means the eight-week season would have to be conducted inside seven weeks, in order to avoid having the season start in bloody January. The reports suggest that the first three rounds of the season could be contested inside two weeks in order to accomodate this.
AFLW figurehead Daisy Pearce has absolutely torched the proposal, slamming it as a “gimmicky tournament” that does nothing to progress the women’s game any further.
It doesn’t sit well with me or a lot of the players is the temperature I’m taking.
I thought when those two new teams come in I was rubbing my hands together. I thought we were going to get a legitimate competition here, play everyone once and head into a finals series, you beauty. But it seems not to be the case.
The reason it annoys me is this is presented as the women’s AFL elite professional offering by the AFL and it has been lauded as that, that finally there’s an elite women’s competition. But with the AFL presenting it as that it comes with a level of expectation. In reality this is a gimmicky tournament.
Pearce also suggested that as long as the season remains an eight-week tournament, that the game will “remain at a level that isn’t elite and professional.“
League bosses are set to meet next week to discuss the structure of the season. Meanwhile players have already begun training for the 2019 season, all without pay.
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