Women’s Australian Rules Football has come a long way from the scratch matches and post-World War 2 teams of the 20th Century. Women who wanted to play Aussie Rules football were constantly challenged by the stereotypes of that period. Today, the Australian Football League Women is composed of 14 professional teams. As competition for women, some playing and equipment rules are modified from the men’s rules. Because of this, some aspects of AFL training drills and even one on one football training drills are modified to adapt to the women’s style of playing.
Although the rules for Australian football were codified in 1859, the sport has been played and dominated by men up to the early 21st Century. Some informal women’s teams and matches were allowed beginning after World War 1, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that professional women’s clubs in the states began to organise into state leagues. In 1981, the Victorian Women’s Football League was formed with four teams competing.
By 1991, the West Australian Women’s Football League and South Australian Women’s Football League were competing professionally. In 1992, state leagues and clubs consolidated into the professional AFL Women’s National Championship. By the year 2000, the AFLW and women’s state clubs had grown by a phenomenal 450%, with around 284,501 registered women players taking part in league games.
Overcoming stereotype challenges
The main stereotype that prevented women’s football teams from expanding professionally in the 20th Century was the claim that the game is “too rough” to be played by women. Organised men’s Australian football made every effort to thwart women playing professionally. Up to 1920, women were forced to play in dresses during scratch and exhibition matches. It was only in 1921 that women started wearing shorts similar to the men.
Women’s Australian football competitions are played with modified rules. The main rule difference between the men’s and women’s games involves tackling rules. Aggressive slinging (swinging a player around or throwing to the ground) of opposition players is not allowed, as well as head-high contact.
The size of the ball in women’s competition is smaller to minimise hand injuries when marking the ball. Some recreational women’s football is introducing a non-contact version of the game.
One on One Football
Today, resources such as “Prep-To-Play” and the AFL Female Community Football are helping coaches and players ensure that all potential female players are prepared for training and match-day by reducing injuries and enhancing performance.
This is why One on One Football has adapted its online training programs that includes AFL training drills that are suitable for both women and men, whether used in team training or one-on-one private coaching. If you’re ready to take your football game to the next level, get in touch or register with One on One Football at https://www.oneononefootball.com.au/register. Take a look around the pages and you’ll find something you like.