No-one is asking ‘What is AFLW?’ anymore.

No-one is asking 'What is AFLW?' anymore.

In the mid ‘80’s the then Sydney Swans coach John Hammond lamented that the only way he could keep up with footy news was to drive to Mascot airport and buy the interstate newspapers.

Tickets for Swans games were given away on city streets, they were at the time considered both a novelty,(with NRL raised Sydneysiders asking 'What on earth is AFL?') and a bit of a joke, think tight shorts of Warwick Capper.

Thirty years on the Red & Whites are now identified as the winter tenants of Sydney’s most famous (and most loved) sporting Arena – the SCG and it seems like the other three football codes are having to scramble around for interest and attention in the largest sports market place in the country.

Admittedly Greater Western Sydney as well as the Gold Coast Suns have a bit of work to do to bed down as prime time footy attractions in the AFL, but it’s the women’s game AFLW that is now working its way into mainstream sporting conversation at this time of year.

The AFLW seems to have positioned themselves in the right space in the national sporting calendar. True there is some residual international cricket fixtures, the novelty of the winter Olympics and something new called AFLX however February is the time for women’s footy to shine and be shined upon.

With closer scrutiny on the competition this year already raising some interesting talking points. Predominately the prevalence of season ending knee injuries to players the calibre of Brianna Davey and Isabel Huntington and in a new and unexpected twist an edict from the AFL following the congested and scrappy season opener between Carlton and Collingwood for coaches to have less players around the ball.

On the positive side of the ledger there’s been many standout moments and games so far in the AFLW, as well as a new Australian sporting benchmark, the crowd of 41,975 at Optus stadium in Perth last weekend that watched Fremantle play Collingwood is now the largest crowd for a female sporting contest in this country.

Fremantle are at home to Melbourne again this weekend and it’s hard to imagine there won’t be another huge crowd at Optus stadium. There’s some clear air in the sporting calendar and a string of newsworthy stories to supplement the action on the field. Plenty of space to kick goals on and off the field.

I’m sure Sydney Swans coaches of the mid 80’s would agree, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

**Image courtesy of AFL Women on Facebook @aflwomens

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