AFLW’s switch to winter start hailed as a success by league after two rounds this season

The AFLW’s switch to an August start is being hailed a success as league hierarchy push for more Indigenous women to join the competition. The AFL’s general manager of women’s football, Nicole Livingstone, says the AFLW’s change from starting in January to last month was already proving of benefit.

“It’s a new time slot for us clearly, running alongside with the men’s finals,” Livingstone told reporters in Adelaide on Monday. “We think starting in the [men’s] bye round has worked really well for us.

“We had 42,000 people turn up to watch AFLW in the opening round and round two was equally exciting … the footy has been incredible. We are exceptionally proud of where we are. This is only our seventh season in six years.

“It feels like you must be joking when you say we didn’t have a women’s league [before 2017] because it feels like it’s just part of the sporting fabric now and part of the AFL.”

Livingstone’s bullish comments came as the AFLW launched its Indigenous rounds, to be held this weekend and next.

“It will honour our history-makers, it will celebrate today’s incredible talent and also, we hope, encourage future Indigenous AFLW players across the country,” Livingstone said.

The AFL’s inclusion and social policy executive general manager Tanya Hosch said motivating more Indigenous women to get involved in the league was a priority.

“What I love the most is that women are deciding what their own benchmark is for success in the growth of this game,” Hosch said. “And we know we will continue to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women coming through those pathways.

“We’re very focused on that, not just on-field but off-field, coaching, in every level of the game including on club boards.”