Life changing. How else do you describe the inaugural NAB AFL Women’s Competition? Especially for women and girls Australia wide. What once started out as a pipe dream became a long-awaited reality when Carlton and Collingwood took to a packed Princes Park on Friday February 3, 2017.
From there the first women’s season continued to smash all expectations, before culminating in a thrilling grand final finish on the Gold Coast. Since then we’ve seen a Best & Fairest crowned and the first women’s State of Origin match.
I was closely involved in covering AFLW’s inception through my social media role at the AFL. Below I’ve documented some of my favourite photos and detailed a wonderful journey that was.
NAB AFL Women’s Draft
Don’t their faces say it all? The top 10 draftees from the inaugural NAB AFL Women’s Draft, including a particularly excited Ebony Marinoff.
Here we met our eight captains for the first time, unveiled the premiership cup and a lucky Auskicker from Adelaide mingled with her heroes.
Words can’t begin to describe this history making night. The crowd, so big the gates had to be closed, sent chills down my spine with every goal and great moment cheered.
I also travelled to Adelaide for the first game there, where I witnessed equal excitement levels at the first game in the city of churches.
The Crows continued on their winning form with a 25-point win over the highly fancied Western Bulldogs, who were led by marquee player Katie Brennan.
When the boys are the curtain raiser to the girls! Melbourne went away with the win and the Hampson-Hardeman Cup, in honour of women’s football pioneers.
A flying visit to Brisbane saw the Lions continue their unbeaten form with a comprehensive win over the injury plagued Giants.
It was the top of the table clash we’d all been waiting for. In the end the Lions got the job done by three points at Adelaide’s Norwood Oval.
AFL Women’s lands in the Northern Territory where the Crows team is partly based.
Now you haven’t seen sunsets until you’ve seen one in Darwin! Mother Nature put on a ripping show, as did the Demons who secured a two-point win in steamy conditions.
I couldn’t have picked a better game for my first in the stands as a fan, as I watched the Crows secure a grand final spot with a come from behind victory over the Magpies.
Fan favourite Sarah ‘Tex’ Perkins booted four goals while Erin Phillips bagged three.
They don’t get much better than this! It all came down to a heart-stopping climax on the Gold Coast with Adelaide defeating the Brisbane Lions by six points in the first women’s Grand Final.
I found myself holding back tears, despite the ‘newness’ of AFLW it was near impossible not form a fondness for these inspirational and hard working women, as the final siren sounded and emotions spilled over between players on the field.
Newfound AFLW star Erin Phillips was awarded Best on Ground before carrying out the lap of honour with her two young twins and father Wayne, a Port Adelaide Magpies champion, in the crowd.
Top cap it off the players got together in the rooms for a rousing rendition of ‘Your the Voice’, in what was a spine-tingling moment marking the completion of a remarkable journey.
NAB AFL Women’s Best and Fairest
The night belonged to Adelaide’s Erin Phillips who made history winning the first AFLW Best and Fairest award. The WNBA player come footy star set the competition alight having returned to a sport she loved as a young girl.
NAB AFL Women’s State of Origin
Another first for the AFLW, with the best of the best coming together for a state of origin match held during the AFL’s bye week. Victoria ran out strong winners over the Allies in a game where Daisy Pearce starred not only on field but after the final siren as well, with her care and time for her youngest fans.
So far it’s been a journey I’ll never forget, but one still with many more chapters to be written.
By Anne Fedorowytsch
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