CARLTON will not follow Richmond's lead and scrap its VFLW team for 2021, despite the financial implications of COVID-19 reverberating around the football industry.
The Blues - one of the early flag favourites for next season - were quick to make a public statement that they would continue to support their second-tier group, believing it creates a pipeline of talent that helps the push for a premiership.
Collingwood's VFLW team won the flag in 2019, and the club's AFLW side climbed up the ladder in 2020, falling just short in games against top sides Fremantle and North Melbourne.
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Carlton CEO Cain Liddle told womens.afl the club was using its strategic plan to help guide decisions, and the plan's No.1 priority was to win premierships.
You didn't REALLY think he was gone, did you?— Carlton Women's (@carltonfc_w) November 23, 2020
We'd like to introduce you to our newest AFLW - and VFL - assistant coach, but we think you're already familiar with @kadesimpson6. ??
"Ultimately, to win premierships, you need to have the best program in place, and our view was it was important to still have a feeder program into our AFLW, and have other options for our players – particularly our development players – who might not be getting a game."
Carlton is also pushing ahead with its redevelopment of Ikon Park, which will benefit both its own footballers and the wider AFLW community, given it is the largest capacity ground in Melbourne to regularly host matches (Marvel Stadium has only held a handful of games).
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"We're extremely committed to our program to the point we're starting on works for the Ikon Park masterplan, where this time next year our facilities for our women athletes will be identical to those of our men," Liddle said.
"There'll be change-rooms built side-by-side, to the same standard, which will lead out into the same brand-new aquatic area, gym and training facilities.
Finish off your week right. ? pic.twitter.com/NFpyhU2jKK— Carlton Women's (@carltonfc_w) November 20, 2020
"We're very grateful for the support of both the federal and state government to help us turn Ikon Park into, effectively, the home of AFLW, where all the premium AFLW games in Melbourne will be hosted.
"The redevelopment will take a couple of years, so there's going to be distractions. I can't confirm yet exactly what will be, but we're doing everything possible to ensure we minimise any distractions from a high-performance perspective for our players and to our supporters, particularly through the AFLW season."
After finishing the cancelled 2020 season as preliminary finalists, it's still good news all round for the Blues, signing a new major co-partner in wheezo, an asthma management device and app.
"It's been a very difficult situation with COVID, and it's had huge implications on so many people across so many industries, so to have wheezo commit to our AFLW program as a new partner – not only of Carlton but of the industry – is something we're really happy about," Liddle said.
"The AFLW program is very, very important to us on a whole range of fronts. To have more partners coming in and supporting AFLW, ensuring our investment continues at the maximum levels, is great."