Last night my husband bounded into the lounge room, (after a 40 degree day that much enthusiasm was exciting to see) he grabbed the tv controls and said “the footy is on”.
Like a bear coming out of hibernation, he had awoken as his beloved AFL returned to his tv screen.
And what a cracker of a game it was, the inaugural AFL Women’s game between Collingwood and Carlton and it was brutal, fierce and skillful.
We’d missed the first quarter and by the time we tuned in the crowd was howling with excitement.
Twitter was telling us the game was a ‘lock out’ and disappointed fans were sharing photos on social media
While another part of Australia was waiting to watch two 40 something year old men two-step around a boxing ring, some literal knock-outs were happening at Ikon Park.
In the second quarter former Matildas goal keeper and W-League star and now Carlton midfielder, Brianna Davey was involved in a tackle on Collingwood midfielder Emma Grant. Grant had to be assisted off the field and took no further part in the game after failing a concussion test.
Thumping tackles were a constant of the game with dislocated shoulders and bleeding cuts above the eye forcing other players from the field.
Davey had a stellar game, 26 disposals and a goal in the 11th minute of the third quarter.
It was a goal that showed how years of being one Australia’s best soccer goal keepers had perfectly prepared her for ALF; taking an easy catch in safe hands, she then lined up the posts and connected her boot perfectly with the ball.
Off the field a shocked looking AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan spoke to fans outside the park apologising for having to lock the gate as the stadium was full.
Even during sideline interviews with the 7 tv team, he seemed overwhelmed by the scale of the crowd response.
The stand out player of the game was Carlton’s marquee signing, 23 year old Darcy Vescio with four goals and the love of the crowd.
She owned the field and looked unstoppable.
It was Carlton’s game 1.5.11 7.4.46, but a special piece of history belongs to Collingwood’s Jasmine Garner who kicked the first goal of the game and AFLW competition.
After the game the ‘kick to kick’ was brilliant, hundreds of fans ran on and the post match interviews were all the more interesting as onlookers tried to get their mugs on tv.
During those interviews it was a simple question from 7’s Samantha Lane that landed like thud, and brought the star of the game Vescio back to reality.
“How will you go back to sign writing after this, you’re a sign writer right?” (according to Wikipedia Vescio is graphic designer and created the Carlton women’s team inaugural guernsey)
Vescio paused “.. yeah I don’t know”
And there was the not at all subtle reminder of the constant battle for equality for these players.
I don’t know if it was a calculated question from Lane, but yep, after proving their abilities and tasting life as professional athlete, all these incredible women will head back to work after this seven week season, and I suspect many will work through the small season.
Here’s how the pay scale works the top two players on each team get about $25,000 for the season, and then $10,000 for high profile players and $5,000 for every one else, while in comparison it’s been reported that the average salary for a male ALF player is $300,000.
The tv, radio, and online coverage of the game has been great and I hope the rest of the season receives the same attention.
Lots of sports women around Australia were watching the game last night, some envious of the results-
Hopefully with results like this for AFLW, other codes will start to see the value of marketing and promoting more women’s sports.
I’m yet to decide on an AFLW team to support, but the bear that has just awoken from hibernation has suggested that in this Sydney Swans house Carlton is not a good choice,
So I’m off now to try and figure out why the Sydney Swans don’t have a women’s team?