Liching grew up with little knowledge of AFL, choosing Essendon as her team as a way of fitting in with the other kids at school. Born and raised in Dandenong with Chinese Russian heritage, Liching used to explain AFL to her non-english speaking parents as “the game where you kick the oval shaped ball through the sticks”.
As a 31 year old, Liching experienced her first ever AFL game at Etihad Stadium, and her first Women’s VFL grand final at Coburg City Oval. “The final between Darebin Falcons and Melbourne Uni was so exciting. I felt like I was part of something bigger. Like history was being made because I knew I was watching players who were going to star in the AFLW league next year.”
With a developing passion for AFLW and the game, Liching has a keen eye on the league’s development. When asked why AFLW is so important to her, Liching remarked “I ride downhill mountain bikes in a largely male dominated field. I think it’s so important for the next generation of girls to understand that they can play any sport, irrespective of gender. They shouldn’t grow up thinking that they can’t do certain things just because it’s not available to them.”
Ebony hasn’t bothered with AFL for 20 years, and even then it was mainly so she had a quick answer at school to “who do you barrack for”?
At uni she enjoyed playing in messy mixed group skirmishes at Fitzroy Oval however the real world gave way to interests where women's achievements were promoted and celebrated.
“For most of my life, AFL was an industry where “The other 51%” were not represented. But then the incredible news - there would be an AFL women’s league. Kicking off with the all-stars match between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval. I confess, I went a bit mental on social media about how great this would be. I’d re-found my enthusiasm and could re-live my youth vicariously through these fit, skilled, brave women”.
Which for Ebony meant going to the game.
“Did I remember how to barrack? When was the right moment to scream ‘baaaaaaalllll?’ Would I ‘carn’ right? I shouldn’t have worried. The moment I stepped into the stadium, the pumping music, lights, and teeming crowd surrounded me with welcoming love. Even more importantly, the rain held off.
It felt like history being made, and I was there. In a year of awful global events, at least this was one thing 2016 got right.
I’m now a Demon. I have the scarf, I’m following them on Twitter, the fixture is out for 2017, and I’m going to be at Casey Fields for Melbourne’s first game on Sunday, Feb 5”.
When you grow up with your street at the foot of Whitten Oval, you’re not going to have much of a say about who you support in the football. Josh has been a doggies fan since the age of nine but remembers his Mum would always grumble whenever there was a game on that they couldn't get a car park outside the house.
With three young daughters of his own now, Josh was jubilant about his team’s historic premiership win, a day he wanted to share with them. “I was trying to instil in the girls the excitement of it, of what a big deal it was and they would take it in, but they really didn't show much interest in it. And I'm wondering if it’s because when they talk about sport, with footy it's a game for the boys and it’s not something that girls play. So yeah, that’s mainly what piqued my interest in the upcoming women’s league”.
Josh thinks now they’ll see it as a game that is open to them and he really wants them to come with him to an AFLW Bulldogs match.
“I've never been super keen to take them to an AFL game just that it's a bit daunting. I did take them to VFL games because I thought it was a bit more family oriented. I think it will be good to take the girls there without the mayhem that's potentially at an AFL game”.
With the bonus he can park outside his old house.