Saturday, September 1, 2018

Saturday Soapbox - Women's footy

NSW Blues Womens Team, July 2017
I need to have a little rant.

Although I'm completely super excited by women's football becoming a professional competition in AFL and NRL... I have issues.

In both codes, the women's competition is billed as Women's and it's different to the Men's... and yet, in both AFL and NRL it's beholden to the Men's comp. That's what's annoying me.

In AFL the women's comp has been extended to include more teams...but now they're proposing a 'dodgy' comp where each team does not play each other because they're trying to squeeze the contest into a very small window between summer sport and the beginning of Men's AFL.

I know sport is competitive for spectators, but it's hardly a legitimate comp if not all teams meet and if it's squeezed in between other men's, more popular, fixtures. So it's billed as a great professional sport and yet it's treated like an also-ran, fill-in until the legitimate sport start. Is this complete double standards?

This is quite a big crowd for the early game, State of Origin
In NRL, they've started with 4 teams, only 1 is based in Sydney. And the contest starts in just over a week...and there is not yet a draw. I suspect this is because the NRL are waiting to find out how the men's competition ends up to see where the semi-final games will be played, to then work around the women's games. WTF? Once again, this women's comp which is billed as a great professional thing, is being treated less than professionally because we're squeezing it in around the men's competition.

I know women who are following women's sports with their kids and partners because it's a different game - less mired in controversy, less impacted by money. It's more aligned to teaching kids how to play team sports - for the love of the game, the joy of teamwork, the improvement of skills. Sport doesn't have to be played for the money, gambling, or the media. It doesn't need to be a multi-million dollar industry.

NSW Winners. Maddie Studdon with cup and fans
If playing women's games before the men is the aim to draw in crowds - which I suspect the NRL may do (but who knows since there's no draw yet!) - doesn't guarantee a crowd at the women's game. I've attended Rugby League games for years and the early games are seen by a very small number of people. About 80% of the crowd turn up in the 30 mins before the main game...and boy, do they miss out on some good footy!

So... I'd like to crow about my membership to Women's NRL...but I can't because I have nothing to show for it - even the clubs are waiting on the draw to hand out memberships.

Please, allow women's professional sport to flourish, without making it subservient to the men's game.

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