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Is Women's Footy The Perfect Curtain-Raiser For AFL Games?

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As the push for a national women’s AFL competition continues to go from strength to strength, an argument about the possibility of women’s matches being played as curtain-raisers to AFL matches has grown. As the women’s game continues to grow both across Australia and abroad, any type of positive publicity generated by the women’s game will only aid that growth.

 

The following arguments are from an article on the www.afl.com.au  website, written by Matt Thompson and Nat Edwards, looking at the various for and against debates on the issue.  Some of the points would also resonate with other women’s competitions in terms of strategies for the future growth of the women’s game across the world.

 

Yes - the perfect curtain-raiser

 

AS THE AFL pushes towards a fully-fledged women's competition in 2017, the only way for it to work is to become the standard curtain-raiser to men's games every weekend.

 

 

 

As a one-off TV event in 2015, the year's second women's game between the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne attracted significant viewers. But the proof will be in the pudding when it comes to long-term success. 

 

There's no doubt the AFL will be very careful about the way the new League is implemented, but stand-alone is not the way to go.

 

It's essential the new teams are aligned with current brands, as the Demons and Bulldogs have done so well already. And to that point, the teams need to match the men's game when the new League is introduced.

 

It's crucial that there's a legitimate reason for fans to engage with the women's team, because it's the only way to ensure growth.

 

Fans are going to be a critical part of the women's League, and by integrating with the men's teams every step of the way, they'll be able to latch onto the already established supporter base.

 

So too will television coverage, and you'd expect the AFL to twist the arm of its current partners to get the games on air.

 

While the ratings were good for a stand-alone game, if the novelty does wear off, the League will need the broadcasters to stick with the concept.

 

There's absolutely an argument for a women's league growing the supporter base of Australian football, but we have to begin with including the fans we've got.

 

Curtain-raisers are the best answer to making the Women's League a success. - Matt Thompson

 

No - women's footy should be standalone games

 

THERE is no doubt that if a national women's competition is to be successful, the teams need to be aligned with the current clubs in the AFL.

 

What they don't need is to become a "support act" for the men every weekend. They deserve their own stage, and the chance to take ownership of the footy field, rather than play second fiddle.

 

In fact, there are some examples already in sport, that show having standalone games for females, and perhaps more radically a standalone season, is the key to long-term success.

 

Let's look at the English Football Association. The Women's Super League, which has teams aligned to English Premier League clubs, is played across the summer months as a standalone competition.

 

When the WSL was introduced in 2011, to supersede the winter-run Women's Premier League, the number of fans attending games increased by a staggering 604 per cent.

 

Crowd figures have continued to grow during the summer WSL competition, increasing from an average of 550 per match in 2011 to 1,076 in 2015.

 

As it is, footy fans are already inundated with football during the winter months. There's AFL, WAFL, TAC Cup, local leagues- the list goes on. With so much on, it's impossible and somewhat tiring to try and consume everything.

 

The appetite for footy is becoming so great in the off-season, that it isn't inconceivable to play the women's competition as a standalone season that runs for 8-12 weeks after the men's Grand Final.

 

Better weather and a hunger for more footy would draw bigger crowds to watch the women battle it out on the field.

 

It would also give these talented ladies a chance to prove their brand of football is good enough to take centre stage. - Nat Edwards

 

 

The article can be found at: http://www.afl.com.au/news/2016-01-05/is-womens-footy-the-perfect-curtainraiser

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Is Women's Footy The Perfect Curtain-Raiser For AFL Games? | 8 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Is Women's Footy The Perfect Curtain-Raiser For AFL Games?
Authored by: Jarren on Sunday, January 10 2016 @ 12:41 am ACDT

Good arguments for both, though I lean to the No argument. Consequently, I would go for different but overlapping seasons, with some double headers. You need some double headers to make sure the product is pushed forward, but it should be seen as a 'special' event, and not a regular occurrence, as that would tend to put the womens game a bit on a footing with the little league.

Is Women's Footy The Perfect Curtain-Raiser For AFL Games?
Authored by: Harley Vague on Sunday, January 10 2016 @ 03:04 pm ACDT

This article demonstrates one problem that Australian Football is facing and that is the lack of quality journalism pandering to an equally shallow readership. Quite simply, curtain-raisers disappeared when the AFL cancelled the reserves competition and replaced it with an extended warm-up period. There have been many instances of quality football games preceding AFL games that have been almost totally unattended. It is exactly the same scenario that confronts the call of AFL fans for a return the AFL reserves competition. Not only are these calls in conflict with each other but they will not draw spectators let alone additional attendees and will not add value to the experience under the current set-ip.
Even the the stand-alone option is lacking the most basic detail. On any given week-end (possibly from Friday to Monday) we have AFL, state leagues, amateurs, community football, school comps, juniors, women and girls football.Given the struggle of state leagues to survive, what are the likely fortunes of yet another league, this time national? Yes, the new media contract offers possibilities but that can be quickly removed by AFLPA demands as in the past.and which are generally supported by AFL fans.
It's time to think a bit more deeply. Perhaps:
1. Provide bigger and better warm-up facilities freeing up the main arena.
2. The low number of women's games could be played as twilight games.
3. Finding a niche for the new league as in summer under lights or mid-week.
4. From a television perspective, a summer league would break new ground.

Is Women's Footy The Perfect Curtain-Raiser For AFL Games?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, January 11 2016 @ 06:07 pm ACDT

I don't think curtain raisers work either, it's true very few people attend - maybe just an occasional one.

I'd love a summer comp - I'm so footy starved in summer. But it's a huge ask to expect anyone to play Aussie Rules in the Australian summer heat. They'd have to play all games at night but e.g. here in Adelaide it's often sunny and still 35 degrees plus at 7pm. Yesterday it was 37.0 at 6pm, 35.7 at 7pm, 33.6 at 8pm, and that was on a day that didn't even get into the 40s. You'd see similar numbers for Perth and sometimes in Melbourne. Besides OH&S the standard would drop due to fatigue and sweaty hands. And going forward these temperatures are only getting more common.

Playing in winter but out of sync with their male counterparts may work better. E.g. if the Crows are away then mostly that means interstate, so the women would have live footy fans more likely to attend a game at home as the men are away. Just a thought.

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Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Is Women's Footy The Perfect Curtain-Raiser For AFL Games?
Authored by: Harley Vague on Tuesday, January 12 2016 @ 12:22 am ACDT

Yes, any summer football competition would have to be at night and that would be a large part of the attraction like the BBL. The length of the initial season is stated to be quite short and could be positioned wrt the climate but the timing of hot spells can be unpredictable. I believe the summer soccer competition plays mostly in the afternoon.

It will be interesting what effect the AFL club association will have. Initially it will encourage fans to support their "other" branded team especially if they play in alternate weeks instead of earlier as suggested. But we're talking 6 teams what about the fans of the other 12 twelve clubs.Will they support women's football unequivocally or reluctant to follow their rival in the men's comp. The women's competition should follow the lead of other national competitions and have one team in each large city with extras in Sydney or Melbourne and that suggests a dedicated name for maximum long-term appeal.

Is Women's Footy The Perfect Curtain-Raiser For AFL Games?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Tuesday, January 12 2016 @ 05:57 pm ACDT

My worry is that even starting at 8pm it'll be very hot quite off. Cricketers don't run so much. I can only assume soccer players don't either.

Do they need to be aligned with AFL clubs? My first thought was yes. Do they get crowds and TV ratings to state league level women's matches? Why will people watch? Initially curiosity. But long term for the quality of the game and for tribalism of supporting their club that they already follow. Maybe the tribalism of supporting their city or region could work. Not as strong as club identity I suspect.

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Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Is Women's Footy The Perfect Curtain-Raiser For AFL Games?
Authored by: Wesley Hull on Tuesday, January 12 2016 @ 07:16 pm ACDT

My own concern is that we already have a high quality off-season competition that could be more widely marketed and supported in Darwin with the NTFL. It wouldn't take much to take it a few more steps to gain higher viewing exposure and possibly look at games being played outside of Darwin to go to a wider audience.

In this way, the women's competition could still share the winter in some meaningful way - maybe not curtain raisers, but what of traditional Saturday afternoon footy? One AFL match for TV and a whole round of women's matches that could also be streamed of shown live through other channels (I remember the days when the VFL was the domain of Channel 7 and the VFA was Channel 10's baby.) Even now with the cricket the is a market for both Channel 9 (tests and one-dayers) and Channel 10 (Big Bash) to prosper.

There is a way - we just need the right people with foresight, and proper marketing to give us men's and womens's matches and quality footy 12 months a year.

Is Women's Footy The Perfect Curtain-Raiser For AFL Games?
Authored by: Harley Vague on Tuesday, January 12 2016 @ 09:36 pm ACDT

Brett, never mention those thoughts to a soccer fan!. They would argue that soccer players run as much as AFL players. There were complaints on two consecutive occasions that soccer games weren't moved to a later spot. Normally I'd say there'd only be the odd occasion where we'd be unlucky enough for this problem to occur and they still play games in Darwin don't they, but we've seemed to be on the cusp whereby unhealthily hot nights are on the increase. I'm surprised that soccer doesn't have a bigger problem with the heat to be frank.
Undoubtedly the first reaction is that the women's league needs the big AFL stamp on. But in the state leagues fans know which are the AFL affiliated teams and re-act accordingly so i would suggest that the minimum would be a separate name,design and colours preferably along state lines for the new teams.
We all know how effective television exposure can be. The ABC used to show the SANFL GF natioanlly and state league games on the back channel. That was going nicely until the ABC changed policy and decided to only televise national leagues irrespective of ratings.The NTFL was disproportionately popular because it was shown in summer. If we ignore the heat issue then that summer slot is still wide open for women, state leagues, NT or a variant. The winter football calendar is well and truly booked. There is growing talk of the AFL reserves competition returning and they would face the same predicament as the women (wrt sheduling). 6 teams would have both a reserves and a women's team. One suggestion for Victorian teams is that the reserves would play curtain-raisers at a nearby oval. eg Punt Rd Oval for the MCG. I'm not sure how well that would work.m not sure

Is Women's Footy The Perfect Curtain-Raiser For AFL Games?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, January 14 2016 @ 12:08 am ACDT

In terms ok km run, an EPL story suggested the top 15 run about 11 km. Footy stats are hard to come by but people seem to think 15 to 20 km for the midfielders. That's a fair difference. Plus footy has the very physical aspect of collisions and being thrown on the ground. You just can't do it to a high standard for a whole game in 30+ degrees... except looking at Darwin stats for summer they tend to be 2 or 3 degrees higher than Adelaide, and the NTFL goes ok. Maybe not as many extreme days? Maybe it is viable.

Re AFL reserves comp. Seems likely. Gee I hate the idea. Some traditionalists like it because it kicks AFL clubs and players out of state leagues like the SANFL and WAFL. Be careful what they wish for. The SANFL has stayed strong and proud through the AFL era but relies so heavily on an aging supporter base. Kick out the AFL links and I think they'll soon disappear from TV and sponsors will dry up and the supporter base will diminish even faster. Meanwhile the AFL reserves players will play in front of 100 people instead of 1000s, all the while costing the game millions more to fly them all over the country. Just more money chewed up and unavailable to causes like international footy.

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Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN