AFLW season start pushed back until January

THE AFL, together with the AFL Players’ Association, has today informed AFLW Clubs the 2022 NAB AFL Women’s Competition will commence on the weekend of January 6 – 9, 2022.

Season Six of the NAB AFLW Competition was previously scheduled to commence in December, however, the decision to commence in January was made in close consultation with Clubs and the AFLPA and aims to provide greater flexibility and least disruption for everyone involved in the upcoming 2022 season while maintaining the priority of protecting the health and safety of the competition and the wider community.

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AFL General Manager Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone said the league was looking forward to Season Six and reinforced the health and safety of the community remained the priority for the league.

"This year’s NAB AFLW Competition saw the best season yet with the quality of the game continuing to attract supporters and inspire hundreds of thousands of girls and women to play football," Ms Livingstone said.

"The 2021 season was also the most challenging yet due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affecting all but two rounds of the Competition.

"As we prepare for Season Six, we know the nature of playing professional sport in a pandemic means we will continue to be presented with challenges in the lead up to and during the season and, as a result, have made the decision for the NAB AFLW Competition to commence in January next year."

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Ms Livingstone said the league remained committed to completing a full 10-round season plus finals – an increase from nine rounds in 2021 – and would continue to communicate with all clubs and players as soon as decisions were made.

"We will continue to listen to and work closely with the players and their clubs to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone in the game. We openly acknowledge there are unique challenges and recognise the non-football commitments of both AFLW players and staff and through this open dialogue we know the AFLW community is absolutely determined to work through them to achieve another ground-breaking season," Ms Livingstone said.

"The health and welfare of those in our game and the wider community remains the priority and we remain committed to commencing and completing the 2022 NAB AFLW season in a safe manner led by respective governments and public health officials.

"We have an experienced team that has proven it can deliver a full fixture in a constantly changing environment and that same team will deliver the 2022 NAB AFL Women’s Competition.

"We may be entering the sixth season of AFLW, but we remain grateful for all those women who helped build women’s football over the decades and thank the current players, umpires, administrators and supporters in the W community for their ongoing support."

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AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh said:

"The AFLPA and players understand the challenges that COVID is currently presenting to society and our industry. The decision to push back the start of the season is a sensible one in the current circumstances and has been worked through with AFLW player leaders.

"The players’ ongoing flexibility is to be commended and we appreciate the AFL’s willingness to in turn work with us to recognise the impact of these changes on the players’ non-football lives in the agreement we have reached with them."