Pre-season training sessions brought forward ahead of 2021

ALL AFLW clubs are able to begin training on Wednesday night in the official start to pre-season.

It was previously agreed the first two weeks would be a period of induction, meetings and testing, as was the case last year, but the AFL and AFLPA has come to an agreement to bring forward training. 

Clubs had been able to hold up to three voluntary sessions a week since the start of October (with small groups in Victoria, under COVID-safe conditions), so bringing forward the start of training helps with continuity.

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Victorian teams are now able to train twice a week (non-contact) as a whole group outside – as are all other interstate clubs, to eliminate any competitive advantage – while there are limits on numbers in the gym at one time. 

"We were able to come to an agreement with the PA that they are able to do some training through that induction period as well," head of women's football Nicole Livingstone told SEN.

"It means they don't lose what limited work they've been able to get under their belts in the winter period due to COVID."

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On the season structure and starting date, Livingstone said changing border situations and the improving situation in Victoria (which has seen five straight days of zero cases) means a decision is yet to be made.

Implementing hubs is still an option, but considered "disruptive" due to the players being part-time and having external work and study obligations.

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Livingstone said the AFL is committed to crowning a premier in 2021 after the abandonment of the 2020 season at the end of March.

"We'd prefer to have nine home and away matches and three weeks of finals delivered as normal, but we all know we don't live in a normal world," she said.

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"It's a very fine balancing act right now on making a call too early as to what the structure of the competition will look like in February next year, when we're seeing the landscape change daily. 

"Hopefully by the end of November we'll have a better understanding of what the landscape looks like from a COVID-restriction point of view and we can have the least disruption."