THE FUTURE of the NAB AFL Women’s competition is bright, after another year of record-breaking growth and increased partner investment highlighting the 2021 season.
The 2021 NAB AFLW competition attracted a total TV audience of over 5 million people in the home and away season, eclipsing the previous record by 35% in 2020 and 49% increase from 2019.
For the first time, all 2021 NAB AFL Women’s competition games were ticketed, with the introduction of tickets demonstrating the progression of the competition and fans interest in attending the game whilst allowing them to attend matches in a COVID-safe environment.
Fans continued to show their support for the elite women’s competition with their feet, with a total of 13 games selling out across the home and away season, while AFLW membership numbers reached an all-time high, registering 24,423 members.
The 2021 NAB AFL Women’s competition featured many new initiatives to promote inclusion and participation including the first dedicated Pride Round, the inaugural Indigenous Round, and the Toyota Good for Footy Round which marked the first joint themed-round across both the elite men’s and women’s competitions.
With last season’s inclusion of four new teams, over 80% of AFL partners also invested in AFLW partnerships in 2021, up from 10% when the NAB AFLW competition was first introduced in 2017. This demonstrates the power of the proposition for partners and alignment of the AFL’s commitment to supporting and celebrating women in football.
This increase in investment and growth of female football is due to an entire support system of volunteers, administrators, fans, industry leaders, and champions of the game, who support more than 600,000 women and girls play football nationally in grassroots and amateur leagues, as well as in the elite game.
The AFLW is grateful for the support from some of Australia’s leading organisations. This year, the AFL has celebrated the work of NAB and their ongoing commitment across the NAB AFL and AFLW Mini Legends campaign featuring AFLW talent and championing women’s talent pathways through the NAB League.
Major partner BHP continues to demonstrate a game changing partnership, investing in Player Development Managers within AFLW Clubs to further support AFLW talent both on and off the field.
Other crucial community football initiatives for AFLW include AAMI Clangers for Good Campaign recently launched for the second season and Toyota Good for Footy Gear Grants program which has proudly provided up to 200 female community teams with access to female specific uniforms across 2020 and 2021.
Additionally, rebel continues to invest in the future generation of female football talent through the rebel mentor program which recently provided VFLW players with resources on leadership, well-being and resilience as well as personal insights from current and former professional athletes.
Each with a solid community presence in Australia, partnerships such as these continue to provide support in crucial areas allowing more opportunities for women and girls to play, umpire and coach football in the AFLW and across Australia.
AFL Executive General Manager of Customer and Commercial, Kylie Rogers, said the dedication shown by partners to make a difference in women’s sport is the foundation for the evolution of AFLW.
"After the 2021 season we were proud to extend and grow partnerships with long term valued partners in AAMI, Bunnings and Hostplus showcasing their ongoing commitment to the AFL and AFLW.
"The competitive advantage offered by women’s football is in the quality of commitment, accessibility, engagement and storytelling of talent within our growing network. Our partners share in our vision and belief that all women and girls have a right to play, participate and work in Australian Rules Football and we thank our partners for their commitment and passion to the AFLW," Ms. Rogers said.
The continued professionalisation of women’s football has increased participation by normalising women’s involvement in a game that was once only seen to be for men and boys. The NAB AFLW competition has provided positive role models and forged a new pathway for women and girls to play competitive sport as a profession.
Long term partner across the AFL grassroots and talent programs, NAB, has held the naming rights of the women’s competition since its inaugural season in 2017. Their decision to extend into the women’s competition has cemented NAB as leading the way to enable the AFLW competition to go from strength to strength.
AFLW stands for more than a game, with partners recognising the role they play when it comes to promoting inclusion and giving back to local communities.
The 2021 NAB AFLW Grand Final will be played on Saturday, 17th April between Adelaide Crows and Brisbane Lions at 1:30pm (ASCT) at Adelaide Oval.
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