“A football which is not restricted only to foot, you can use any part of your body to move the ball” says Melissa Haase, fan of Australian Football League AFL Women’s.
AFL is a unique type of football league, unique in a sense that the rules and style is totally different from the ordinary football. This officially called ‘Australian Football’ but also known as Australian Rules Football, Aussie rules or footy.
It is a contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players on an oval-shaped field, often a modified cricket ground. The main way to score points is by kicking the oval-shaped ball between the two tall goal posts. The team with the higher score by the end of the match wins unless a draw is declared.
“There are rules on how the ball can be handled; for example, players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it on the ground. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball,” Says Melissa Haase.
AFL was only a male league but now because of the popularity the AFL management starts its female version for the first time, in the first season of the league began in February 2017 with eight teams. The league is run by the Australian Football League (AFL) and is contested by a subset of clubs from that competition.
“I was playing against the boys until I was 12 year old when I was told I needed to play against the girl” Says Alicia Eva player of Collingwood Club. She Added “I was one of the best player in Australia but there was no competition I could play in Australia professionally.
She further elaborated “there was no development and funding for women’s AFL so I didn’t have the avenue to continue my career.
The competition’s 8 teams are based across 5 states of Australia. Carlton, Collingwood, Melbourne and Western Bulldogs. Half are based in the Melbourne metropolitans. Greater Western Sydney from the states of New South Wales, Adelaide from South Australia, Brisbane from Queensland and Fremantle from Western Australia. Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory, and Northern Territory are the only states or mainland territories not to have AFL Women’s clubs.
Alicia Eva said “the introduction of AFLW competition has allow me to start my career in AFL again and give women in Australia the same opportunity as the man. “The success of the new competition has shown that women can be entertainers in the sports industry and shows that given the right opportunity, women can make a career out of sport in Australia.”
She elaborated “There is a long way to go but the new competition is a great smart and something so positive in improving attitudes towards women’s sport and proving the same opportunity as the men.
Contributed by Anees ur Rahman & Umar Farooq
The story was incomplete without the collaboration of Didier Stobart and Malissa from Australia.
Photos courtesy: AFL Official