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HomeSportsWhy the AFLW is heading in the right direction

Why the AFLW is heading in the right direction

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AFLW is nearing the end of season seven and it continues to impress following the first week of the finals.

The current campaign is the first of its kind where there’s been 18 teams with Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney joining the competition.

Each week the game continues to grow and improve, making major inroads since beginning back in 2017.

On the eve of the season, the AFL and AFLPA confirmed a new and revamped Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The average salaries were increased, more investment into the league and a target of turning the season into a full-time competition by 2026.

The AFLW has provided a lot of hope for the future, giving young girls opportunities to live out their dream of becoming professional footballers.

Not to mention that the improvement off the field is mirrored by what’s being produced on-field and all that can be seen in Disney’s documentary ‘Fearless’.

According to The Age, all clubs are developing key aspects of our great game.

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Ball control/movement

Positive development in ball control and fundamental skills have resulted in distinct game styles and free-flowing matches.

From the first season to now, there’s been quite a sharp spike in uncontested possessions, meaning there’s less stoppages and likely more ease of ball movement.

However, the founding teams show a clear advantage over other clubs in this area and is a main reason why Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne find themselves near the top most years.

On average, the initial clubs gather 14 more disposals per game, which equates to 10 more uncontested possessions and four contested.

Statistical improvements

Key Statistic Season 1 Season 7 Improvement %
Avg. Disposals 177.78 207.74 29.96 14.42
Avg. Uncontested Possessions 82 102 20 19.61
Avg. Contested Possessions 95 101 6 5.94
Tackles 55.20 63.68 8.48 13.32
Marks 33.14 37.91 4.77 12.59

The Age also reported that disposal efficiency increased by 4.5 per cent (between S1 and S7) which is a testament to the improvement in players and their time spent in the game.

AFLW has gone from 57.1 (S1) to 61.6 per cent (S7)

Inclusivity

The AFLW competition prides itself on ensuring everyone has a chance to play professional football and that all are welcome to join in.

According to Adelaide midfielder and Irish recruit Ailish Considine, the women’s league is leading the embrace of different sexualities compared to other codes.

“I get a view of two different worlds … it’s so nice to see how normal and supported it is over here [in Australia],” Considine said on CODE.

“It brings [LGBTQIA+] to the forefront, when you see it at AFLW level, at national level, it gives you that sense of pride to be able to express who you are and what you are.

“It’s so important for younger girls and boys who are coming up through the ranks, to have that to look up to and normalise the situation.”

In round eight, all 18 teams participated in a Pride Round, which celebrates diversity and inclusion.

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Local footy vibe

As corny as it sounds, football lovers would admire heading back to some of the local grounds around Australia and connecting with the roots of the game.

Filling out a Victoria Park where the Pies play gives fans insight into the men’s competition before the 2000s.

IKON Park which is known to many as Princes Park has the same concept.

No doubt that as the game grows, the capacity for supporters to attend will too, but the local footy feeling gives a unique edge to the AFLW competition and its followers.

Work-in-Progress

Despite being on the right path, AFLW is still subject to some improvements alike every other sport.

Scoring has been an issue in the early stages of the competition.

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Scoring

Despite the 15 minute quarters which is very different to the men’s competition, there has been a general decline in average goal accuracy from season one.

The league began (S1) at a rate around 39.5 per cent which has since fallen to under 38 per cent in season seven.

The introduction of the new teams should be taken into account but is definitely still an area clubs should be looking at.

Goal accuracy is also reflected in the goals-to-behinds ratio.

Seasons Goals Behinds Ratio
One 267 234 1.14:1
Two 287 302 0.95:1
Three 389 420 0.93:1
Four 424 445 0.95:1
Five 673 752 0.89:1
Six 709 825 0.86:1
Seven 852 1003 0.85:1

(Season one is the sole campaign when more goals were kicked than behinds.)

Shot efficiency has also taken a tumble from previous years, with the competition sitting at an all-time low of shots on goal per inside 50 entry.

Down from 46 per cent to 41, this stat can determined by two factors:

  1. Defensive pressure has gone up making it harder to score against the opposition
  2. Forward craft and scoring prowess cannot match the opponents’ backline 

Although there’s plenty to work on, there is so much more to work with.

AFLW is only in its seventh season and has become more than just a football game.

The competition is growing by the day and it will be exciting to see what the future holds.


Credit: sportingnews.com

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