The NAB AFL Women’s Competition Committee has recommended the continuation of the controversial conference system for the 2020 AFLW season.
After the 2019 AFLW season introduced the conference system, Geelong qualified for finals as one of Conference B’s representatives, despite having fewer wins than Conference A sides North Melbourne and Melbourne, which both missed the preliminary finals.
Despite this, AFL’s head of women’s football, Nicole Livingstone, said the competition committee was in full support of the refinement and continuation of the conference structure.
“There was an agreement with every member of the Competition Committee [of] overwhelming support of conferences,” she said.
“We need to figure out from a machinations point of view how we set those conferences and what the timing of the competition is for next year.
“That recommendation will go to AFL Executive and then the AFL Commission for ratification for the 2020 season.
“[Reasons included] the exciting nature of them; the fact there were clubs that were still alive [late in the season], and the window of time [for a season] we have right now as we look to progress the AFLW.”
Livingstone said the unevenness of the 2019 conference system had been discussed by the Competition Committee
“There was a recognition that women’s football is unpredictable and all it takes is a couple of injuries [to change things],” she said.
“Player movement was discussed as well, and the need to not only look at the clubs now, but to look at the clubs when player movement has been finalised.
“Equally, if you had have told me (Fremantle midfielder) Kiara Bowers would have had to wait for two years to make her debut and then had the impact that she did or that Maddy Prespakis, we knew she was good, but to make the All Australian team in her first year as a draftee was pretty amazing.
“There are still a lot of unknowns,” Livingstone said.
The recommendation to the AFL does not mean conferences are locked in for 2020, as the AFL Executive will decide whether to accept the recommendation and if it does, the AFL Commission will then have the final call on the future of AFLW competition structure.