It might be International Women’s Day today, but as far as Fox Footy goes it’s International Women’s Year.
The AFLW has taken the game by storm in just its second season, and more and more women broadcasters are kicking down the door of the media landscape; boldly and brilliantly stamping their claim on broadcasting space that was previously dominated by a seemingly impenetrable boys’ club comprised largely of ex-players.
Fox Footy launched their season 2018 slate of programming last night (the AFLW is about to enter its sixth week of competition for the year, but whatever), and revealed a slate of programming that places women broadcasters in a greater spotlight than ever before.
This year the cable footy network will premiere the new show On The Mark, set to air every Wednesday night at 8:30pm. Hosted by Sarah Jones, Neroli Meadows, and Kelli Underwood, the show will feature “in-depth interviews focusing on the personalities rarely seen on traditional football shows.”
At last night’s launch, we chatted with Meadows and Jones on the red carpet about the sharp rise of women’s footy, and the future of female representation in the sport.
Jones in particularly was brimming with enthusiasm for the AFLW, which is only going from strength-to-strength in its second year, and is helping to strengthen vital pathways for girls to follow their passions in footy throughout their entire sporting development.
I was on maternity leave [during the inaugural AFLW season], so I didn’t get to be part of [it]. But thankfully I have this season and it’s been awesome and I think it’s been such a big thing for women players, administrators, coaches, women in the media to really thrive in that space.
It really exploded beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations so, to see a massive lockout for the very first game, to see big attendances, big figures in terms of television viewing, I think it’s only gonna get bigger and better as the girls improve over the years, the more young girls see it as a viable option and a sporting career for themselves.
Simiarly Meadows, who will also serve as host of another new Fox Footy program Saturday Stretch this year, extolled the virtues of the AFLW and recalled just how momentous serving on the broadcast team for the inaugural game felt.
I’m a little bit ashamed to say that I cried after the first game on the boundary. I just realised how big a deal it was, it all hit me at once and I just thought it was a really special moment to realise my nieces and nephews are going to grow up in a world where women play footy too, and that’s normal, and they’ll probably look back and go “what do you mean they didn’t play when you were a kid?!”
For what it’s worth, Jones singled out Western Bulldogs gun Katie Brennan as a true star of the league, while Meadows suggested big things are in store for Brennan’s fellow Bulldog Izzy Huntington in the years to come.
While Fox Footy’s roster of presenters is, undoubtedly, dominated by men, their continued efforts to not only hire new female talent, but put them front and centre on broadcasts, is a sign that things are certainly heading in the right direction.
You can cop a face-load of Fox Footy via this link.Image: Getty Images / Graham Denholm