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Where are the female AFLW coaches? (Australia)

If the AFL started AFLW simply to give women the opportunity to play football at a professional level, then that purpose has been achieved. But what if it was about something more?

What if it was also about the AFL indicating to its fan-base that it was passionate about diversity and inclusion, and also demonstrating a commitment to adequate female pathways ? for not only players, but also those who wanted to be administrators, coaches or involved more broadly in the physical aspect of preparing a team for game day?

Has that purpose been achieved and if not, are we on track to achieve it?

Season one, I was blown away by the joy which surrounded the competition. It dominated the news and names like Erin Phillips, Daisy Pearce, Amanda Farrugia and Moana Hope became part of the national conversation.

There was momentum surrounding and I was hopeful that this would carry on into season two, particularly after the scenes on AFLW grand final day when Bec Goddard and her team ??split across Adelaide and the Northern Territory ? held up the trophy for the first time.

For the most part, the momentum continued ? because AFLW helped so many women to fall in love with the game again, while others were brought to the game for the first time.

As a female fan of any male-dominated sport, it?s often hard to explain why you love the game so much ? particularly amidst allegations of player misbehaviour, sexism and a perceived lack of opportunity for women.

But in season two, a couple of other things happened which made me question the direction of the competition and how committed the AFLW really was to making systemic change.

The first was the memo leaked, after Round 1, asking coaches to rethink their strategy to produce higher scoring games. The two key areas highlighted were congestion around stoppages and defensive flooding.

Asking coaches to prepare their teams in a certain way was disingenuous, did not allow the game to develop naturally at its own pace, and suggested that the AFL did not think that the competition was entertaining enough to maintain spectator interest.

Interestingly, I saw no such memo sent to coaches in the wake of some low-scoring games in the AFL this year ? most notably the Round 1 fixture between the Gold Coast Suns 7.13.55 and North Melbourne 5.9.39, or the Round 6 clash between the Greater Western Sydney Giants 10.17.77 and Brisbane Lions 5.13.43.



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