- 14 games over 16 weeks starting Saturday February 27, 2021
- 12 Clubs – Carlton, Casey Demons, Collingwood, Darebin, Essendon, Geelong, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Port Melbourne, Southern Saints, Western Bulldogs and Williamstown
- Port Melbourne are new to the competition after announcing an alignment with Richmond for the 2021 rebel VFLW Season
- Top Six finals series to commence in June to be played over four weeks
- rebel VFLW Grand Final scheduled for the weekend of July 10, 2021
- 2019 VFLW Grand Final re-match between Western Bulldogs and Collingwood to be played in round three
- Collingwood to play Essendon on the ANZAC Day weekend
The AFL has today announced a new era for women's second-tier football in Victoria releasing the first round of the 2021 rebel VFL Women's Premiership Season.
Round One will commence on Saturday February 27 when North Melbourne host newcomers Port Melbourne at Arden Street from 10am. For the first time, the rebel VFLW Premiership Season will align with the NAB AFLW Competition allowing non-selected AFLW players to play for their aligned VFLW club during February, March and April.
The start of the season will see a full talent pathway program for elite women in Victoria with the NAB League Girls, VFLW and AFLW competitions being played at the same time for the first time.
Other key round one matches include the reigning premiers Collingwood travelling to Deakin University to play Geelong while Essendon will host the Southern Saints for the first time at The Hanger, Tullamarine on Sunday February 28.
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Given the shared resources at many AFLW and VFLW clubs, the league would continue to take the advice of the Victorian Government and health officials as well as link in with the AFLW fixture as it worked through fixtures for upcoming rounds.
Entering its fifth season, the rebel VFLW competition has been the pathway for elite women in Victoria and seen some of the stars of the AFLW competition progress through including Daisy Pearce, Darcy Vescio, Katie Brennan and Libby Birch.
The league welcomes Port Melbourne to the competition after announcing an alignment with Richmond for the 2021 rebel VFLW Season. The partnership will see Richmond AFLW players given the opportunity to continue to play together at the state-level. It will also provide a strong pathway at the grassroots for women in the metro and Bendigo region to be a part of an elite state level program. The team will play as Port Melbourne Borough with a home ground of ETU Stadium (North Port Oval).
The AFL is pleased to confirm the VFLW alignments with NAB League Girls creating a direct pathway for NAB League Girls players as well as providing them with opportunities to play in the VFLW competition once their season has finished.
AFL Head of Women's Football Nicole Livingstone said women's football continues to go from strength to strength across the country and that it is a credit to competitions like the VFLW that have grown and developed many AFLW stars of the future.
“The rebel VFLW Competition has been a foundation league in Victoria for many years and an exciting pathway for young girls. Players like Monique Conti, Karen Paxman, Daisy Pearce and Ellie Blackburn all had great success in the VFLW Competition and we look forward to welcoming the next crop of AFLW stars,” Livingstone said.
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“We are delighted with the growth in the women's game and to see the emerging talent across all levels is very exciting for football. The VFLW has an exciting season ahead as more girls continue to progress their football journey."
Teams will field 16 players per side with five on the bench. AFLW Aligned VFLW Clubs must select a minimum of five Under 22 players in all matches with Non-Aligned VFLW Clubs (Essendon, Darebin, Hawthorn & Williamstown) must select a minimum of three U22 players in all matches.
Quarter length will be 20-minute flat quarters with time-on added in exceptional circumstances.
The Lambert-Pearce medal will be awarded to the leagues best and fairest at the conclusion of the season. Previous winners include AFLW captains Daisy Pearce and Katie Brennan.
VFLW and VFL double-headers will be a feature during the season and will be released following confirmation of the VFL fixture. These double-headers will be dependent on Government protocols.
AFL Head of Talent Pathways and State League Competitions Tristan Salter said the new season will showcase the talent and standard of the league while still keeping the community connection that makes the competition so unique.
“The quality and standard of the rebel VFLW Competition continues to elevate each year. Despite not playing football for almost 12 months, all clubs, players and coaches are ready for a big year of women's second-tier football in Victoria,” Salter said.
“The 2021 fixture will allow great exposure for the next wave of talent and will provide fans across Victoria the opportunity to get close to the action with clubs and players maintaining a great connection to their communities. The alignment with the AFL Women's and NAB League Girls fixtures will see the best girls across Victoria play competitive football matches every weekend.”
“These continue to be unprecedented times and the fixture this year will continue to respond to and reflect the situation across country. We will continue to remain adaptable as we listen to and work closely with each stakeholder to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone in the game.
“On behalf of the AFL, I want to thank all clubs, players and the AFLPA, umpires, venues, governments and our broadcast and commercial partners for their understanding and continued support of the rebel VFL Women's Competition.”
The timeslots for the next block of matches will be released once the 2021 rebel VFLW Premiership Season begins. The AFL will continue to take the advice of the Victorian Government and health officials as it worked through fixtures for upcoming rounds.
Saturday, February 27
North Melbourne v Port Melbourne Arden St Oval 10.00am
Geelong v Collingwood Deakin University (Waurn Ponds) 12.00pm
Carlton v Casey Demons IKON Park 2.00pm
Sunday, February 28
Western Bulldogs v Hawthorn VU Whitten Oval 10.00am
Essendon v Southern Saints The Hangar 10.30am
Darebin v Williamstown La Trobe Uni (Bundoora) 11.30am
Crowds will be permitted at all matches in Round One unless otherwise advised. Matches will be streamed through the VFLW digital channels.
While COVID-19 continues to impact the community, the health and welfare of our players and the community remains the priority and all matches will operate in a safe manner anchored in the advice of respective governments, public health officials and medical experts.
Strict protocols will be in place to protect players, officials, staff and the wider public at all matches. Spectators are allowed to attend matches but limited crowd capacity will be enforced at all venues.
The AFL remains committed to the development and progression of women's football across all levels in the country.
The AFL would like to acknowledge the support of all industry stakeholders throughout this process and their patience in the construction of the fixture.
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