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Final four clubs join the AFLW

Final Four Teams Complete The AFLW

T
he Women’s Australian Football League will now have all 18 AFL clubs entering the women’s side into the competition for the 2022/23 season.

As invited by the AFL commission, The AFLW will be joined by the final four teams, Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Sydney.

The AFLW will become whole for the first time since the creation of the league in 2017, where initially only eight teams were included. 

Decided by the AFLW commission, the competition will remain at 14 teams for the upcoming 2021/22 season, giving the final four teams time to train and prepare for their debut. 

AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan, said the competition was “changing forever and changing for the better”.

“In 2015, there were 318,000 women and girls playing our game,” McLachlan said.

“Today, there are more than 600,000 women and girls playing around the country. 

“Before we announce the final teams into the competition, I want to acknowledge those who have been driving women’s football since the first organised match was played over 100 years ago in 1915.

“The contribution and persistence of pioneering individuals who pushed and pushed for women to play football should never be forgotten. 

“So for all those pioneering women, we’re here today because of your hard work. 

“Thank you,” he said. 

McLachlan said the final four teams all met the required criteria including; facilities, list strategies, fan engagement, resourcing, commercialisation and investment in AFLW. 

However, whether the season length will be extended is yet to be confirmed (10 rounds in the 2021/22 season), with the current Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire in October 2022.

McLachlan said: “Season length and player pay are ongoing discussions.” 

“I don’t believe, per say, there is any greater integrity or commitment to the season playing each other once.

“That’s where many of the players are, certainly. 

“I believe that sustainable growth is the path forward. 

“We will get there at some point, but it needs to be sustainable,” he said.

McLachlan also stated the AFLW will be working on boosting underrepresentation in coaching ranks, with the 2021/22 season without any women holding senior coaching roles. 

“Depth is a key part of broader representation and those who are willing and able to get to those positions can,” McLachlan said.

“It’s clearly also a commitment from clubs to give them an opportunity.

“[Quotas] have been raised.

“I won’t comment on that other than to say I think clubs are clear that we need greater female representation in the coaching ranks. 

“The discussion is not going away,” he said.