In Australia, women will play the popular national game, Australian Rules Football, in a national competition for the first time next year.
The Australian Football League (AFL) has announced the eight clubs that will compete in the first year of the competition, to be known as AFL Women’s, and the rules of the game, modified from the men’s competition have been finalised.
Surprisingly, womens football has been around in Australia since early in the 20th century, although the few matches held were generally one-off exhibition games. In the 1980s, state based leagues formed and national championships were inaugurated in 1992. Women’s football became professionalised in 2010,
In the past five years, womens football has grown at an amazing rate – in 2015, 163 new teams were formed and a total of 284,501 players took part in organised games.
In August 2016, the first televised womens football match in history was played between the Western Bulldogs and the Melbourne Demons, and watched by more than a million people across Australia.
However, as in most other women’s sports, there is still an enormous disparity in pay and conditions for professional women players compared with men. At present, women AFL players will be paid only $5,000 for the eight-week season and they have to pay for their own boots and health insurance.
More information about AFL Women’s is here.