With the inclusion of four new teams in 2020 and a plethora of new sponsorship deals, the AFLW is preparing to push more boundaries in its fourth year of competition.
Key partnerships like these have heavily contributed to the progression of the code in recent years by providing the funding to support the hundreds of thousands of females playing nationally in grassroots and amateur leagues, as well as in the elite game.
Over the last six years, female football participation has boomed, rising from 195,000 in 2014 to over 580,000 in 2019.
Last year alone, there was a 31% increase in female football participation across all levels of the game in 2019.
LINX Cargo Care Group, Thrifty, and AAMI have also joined the AFLW family, citing the synergy with the league and the movement it has created, while existing partners, Special K and Chemist Warehouse have both resigned until the end of October 2022.
AFL General Manager of Commercial, Kylie Rogers, said the dedication shown by partners to make a difference in women’s sport is the foundation for the evolution of AFLW.
“Demand from partners stems beyond a desire to be associated with football.
“We have developed long-term, value-based relationships with brands whose purpose and mission are aligned to ours,” Ms Rogers said.
“The competitive advantage offered by women’s football is in the quality of engagement, accessibility, and storytelling of talent within our network.
“Partners have direct access to all levels of the sport, and the association with the purpose of the AFLW has a halo effect of positive sentiment in the market.”
Long term partner, NAB, has held the naming rights of the women’s competition since its inaugural season in 2017 and NAB Chief Customer Experience Officer, Rachel Slade, said the company is committed to growing the game at all levels.
“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved through our partnership with AFLW.
“Through the NAB AFL Women’s Draft, we’ve seen hundreds of women realise their potential, with more to come through pathway programs such as the NAB AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships and NAB AFL Women’s Academy.
“The support of these programs highlights how NAB is dedicated to community initiatives in a bid to advance gender equality,” Ms. Slade said.
AFLW stands for more than a game, with partners recognising the role they play when it comes to promoting inclusion and giving back to local communities.
Partnering with a number of community focussed programs across the country, Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer, Wayne Gabriel, is thrilled to be part of the elite female competition as the official automotive partner of AFLW.
“Toyota is passionate about supporting football across all levels, so we’re delighted to extend our support to AFLW in addition to our partnerships with community programs including the NEAFL, AFL Inclusion Carnival, National Wheelchair AFL Championships, Volunteer of the Year Awards and ‘Club Help’ online platform.” Mr Gabriel said.
“Since 2008 Toyota has been supporting grassroots football through our Good For Footy Program through various community initiatives which include The Good For Footy Raffle and more recently the Gear Grants Program.
“To join like-minded partners who share our vision of community and mobility is something we’re really excited about and we can’t wait to see what 2020 brings.”
In addition to participation growth, research proves that women’s sport is the fastest growing sports fan segment worldwide.
Across eight global markets, 84% of general sports fans have an interest in women’s sports and half of those are men – proving the fierce competitiveness shown by women in sport has no gender boundary in its appeal.
It’s not just an audience connection that brands value Rogers said, they are passionate about diversity and inclusion and committed to achieving gender equality.