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Sunday, December 17 2017 @ 04:50 pm ACDT

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Opinion: Now or never for AFLW call on international women - part one
Authored by: Wesley Hull on Wednesday, September 20 2017 @ 09:37 am ACST

There will be all manner of opinions on this argument coming from all levels of involvement in the women's game - or the game in general - and all will of value in the overall fabric of this argument. But, for what it's worth, here's mine.

Since 2006 when I first started coaching girls in school teams (primary) the standards have risen remarkably at this ground roots level. It would not be unfair to say that the first girls in 2006 made up the numbers and struggled to understand the game and were very reluctant to play in games against same age boys (the only available opposition).

By 2009 I had a super girls team that unluckily lost our local schools tournament by just a point. The team now had three or four bone fide "stars" (three of which are major players in the Cairns women's competition today). In just three years I had enough girls to almost make a second team and the higher level talent was exciting.

More than anything that year was a turning point when other girls in the team wanted to be like our best players in the team - genuine examples of some girls inspiring others.

Fast forward to 2017 and in three weeks time I take my primary schools girls team from up here in Cairns down to the Sunshine Coast as one of the four best schools in the entire state to compete in the AFLQ Queensland Schools Cup State Championships. Their journey this year has seen them win the Cairns district title, the North Queensland regional title and along the way most were involved in winning the inaugural Girls 10-12 years Peninsula Title (part of the national schools pathway).

These girls are terrific. They are fearless, talented, athletic and at 11-12 years of age they are the future stars of our local, state and potentially national women's leagues and clubs.

The most compelling evidence of the change these girls have made to local footy is to weeks ago when I kept my girls together as a team in a district schools AFL carnival playing against boys teams. Listening to the boys saying "Oh, no, we've got the girls next match" was such a telling statement of both fear and the respect these boys held our girls in (the girls came second in the tournament).

So where am I going with this example? Quite simply, my own journey with girl's footy from 2006 to 2017 has started from very modest beginnings to something that is the pride of our district and possibly even our region. Every aspect of the game is improving. Is it coaching? Possibly. Is it the girls? Most definitely. Or is it the ongoing opportunity put in front of them to grow? Absolutely.

Without working hard to create the opportunities the game simply could not have grown here as it has, regardless of the talent or interest.

Thi is the point where my experience dovetails with this article. The AFL MUST open the gates and create every opportunity for the women's game to flourish. The men's game already has players from Ireland, USA and more at the highest level. This has to be offered also to the women's game to harness the BEST available talent worldwide and create a showpiece for girls and women everywhere to aspire to. Don't contain it to a few select clubs with a few select restrictions just because the game doesn't yet look like the best of men's AFL..do it because the growth between 2017 and 2027 will be phenomenal (just like it has been up here with my girls).

My story is just one of hundreds of similar stories - but they all would show the same things as common threads - increased participation, increased opportunity, increased talent, increased enjoyment.

If the AFL is not prepared to open the doors to ALL women and make this the greatest showcase of women's footy then they are doing an injustice to my girls and all other girls who are aspiring to the greatest heights or any height they wish.

Opinion: Now or never for AFLW call on international women - part one
Authored by: Harley Vague on Wednesday, September 20 2017 @ 01:39 pm ACST

Unfortunately this is another case good ideas, good intentions and good directions being sucked into the vacuum of football-other-than-AFL. If the AFLW is independent of the AFL, then they should be making the decisions in this case.

Opinion: Now or never for AFLW call on international women - part one
Authored by: Cam Homes on Thursday, September 21 2017 @ 10:56 am ACST

It's probably worth reminding everyone that the Americans that have managed to get some games in the AFL ( ie. Cox, Holmes, is there one more?) all were drawn from other sports, so it is very questionable how much that has inspired existing players or potential players to take up the game in the USA. Also it makes you wonder how the likes of Katie Klatt and others (busted a gut and spent big bucks to try to get drafted only to see players who had never played Aussie Rules be drafted and play in the inaugural AFLW competition) felt.

I think it is pretty weird that the AFL (world ruling body) seems to think that taking elite athletes from other sports is somehow promoting AFL ( the code) in other parts of the world and inspiring other nations and nationalities to take up the game. DUH !!!!

Brett, you seem even more pessimistic than me about this, is this really a case of the AFL totally missing the bus/train/bandwagon.

DO we at least have a smidgen of hope??????