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AFLW chief Nicole Livingstone embraces change as season three is set to roll (Australia)

The former backstroke world champion and Olympic medallist has those butterflies in her stomach that used to visit her before a big swim meet.

?Not long to go now,? the head of women?s football at the AFL tells me.

?I feel like when the day count before the Olympics used to be on the wall at the Australian Institute of Sport at Bruce Stadium, and you watch it and suddenly you?re in single figures.?

Livingstone is counting down to the start of the third AFLW season, which begins on Saturday when Geelong make their competition debut when they host Collingwood.

The Cats are one of two new teams entering the AFLW, along with a powerful North Melbourne side, which are expected to have an immediate impact.

It?s Livingstone?s job to oversee the expansion and promotion of the women?s game and its major competition. While its rapid expansion has been exhilarating for many, it?s also created a number of major challenges.

Livingstone understands that meeting expectations, as many and varied as they are, is a daunting task.

Her elite sports experience and her roles as a sports administrator (she?s been a board member at ASADA as well as being a current board member of swimming Australia) has her well placed to handle the pressure before the opening bounce of the season cranks up.

?The same notions apply in that the preparation that you put in is the result that you get and we?ve worked our backsides off in the last 12 months,? she said.

The AFLW rode a wave of euphoria in 2017 in a debut season that saw big crowds revelling in the arrival of the women?s professional league.

By the time of its sophomore campaign in 2018, public opinion was less sanguine as lower scoring games and scrappy football became the focus of critics.



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