Female football powerbrokers have called for an end to comparisons with the men’s game ahead of today’s historic first western derby between West Coast and Fremantle at Optus Stadium.
AFL head of women’s football Nicole Livingstone, Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett and female football champion Jan Cooper are adamant that the AFLW should stand alone as a sport played differently to that of their male counterparts.
Today’s opposing captains, Fremantle’s Kara Antonio and West Coast’s Emma Swanson, said that women were set on creating their own history.
“It’s grown in leaps and bounds and we see that in the number of young girls picking up a footy,” Antonio said.
“Playing the game at a grass-roots level, they can now see a game that’s right there and it’s real. It’s a product we’re excited to be a part of and being the pioneers laying the foundation for the next generations.”
Swanson agreed that the women’s game should have an identity all of its own.
“It’s really important that it stands for equality and that it’s in view for young girls that they can play the game,” she said.
Ms Livingstone, who will attend today’s derby and expected it to have “extra spice”, said the AFLW would unashamedly promote and celebrate the differences between it and the men’s game.
“I’m proud of the character that AFLW has created in the first four years,” she said.
“Many sports spend a lot of time not wanting a point of difference with their men’s and women’s programs but we’re not afraid to say that AFLW is the same, but different. We’re really proud of what we’re doing.”
Mr Nisbett said West Coast’s 3000 AFLW members, many of them new to the club, was an enormous result.
“It’s created an opportunity for something really new that people didn’t think was ever going to happen,” he said.
“Some of the women who are getting the opportunity to play will be role models for the young girls who want to experience our sport.”
The game was expected to have sold 40,000 tickets by last night.