I’ve been looking forward to last night for weeks, and really couldn’t sit still as the day went by. Richmond at last made it’s debut in the 4th season of AFLW. I won’t say this often about any game of senior footy, but the four points were not the main focus.
There are so many great stories around women’s footy, and the greatest are at either end of the age spectrum.
There are the older women who have had a chance to play Australian Rules at the highest level, in front of massive crowds. And I’ll bet if you walked them back to 2013 or 2014 you’d find someone playing basketball or hockey or netball who had given up on ever being able to play footy again after ageing out at 13 or 14. This applies to Olympians like Erin Phillips but also people like Lauren Tesoreiro who was coaching netball and working in a nursery.
At the other end of the scale are girls like Alexandra. She’s 3, and went along to the footy last night with her deep-dyed-Tiger dad Jason. She will grow up not remembering a time when Richmond fielded only men’s teams. Just like boys always have, she’ll be free to dream of herself one day, big and strong, fit and fearless, wearing the yellow and black and representing Richmond. I love that it’s now a possibility.
I have three minor disappointments. The least of them is the result; it would have been amazing to come out and beat last year’s finalists in our first game, with goals aplenty to cheer.
We kicked two in the last quarter, but they were cheered very hard and will always be remembered.
I am a bit disappointed in the crowd. While I’m glad no-one who wanted to be there was left stuck outside, I do wish more Tigers had gone along to see the historic game. I know plenty of Richmond members, just like the wider footy world, are skeptical about the entertainment value of AFLW.
I would just ask every Tiger to embrace it now. Don’t wait for Richmond success to get on board. How would you have enjoyed 2017 if you hadn’t endured 2016 (and the rest)? I truly believe Richmond can bring something new to AFLW, and that manic defensive pressure and chaotic attack we love will show itself sooner rather than later.
Lastly I am sad that with the heavy traffic of players going in all directions and high profile additions to the club, we go into our first season without any of our 2018 foundation VFLW leaders on the list. Kate Dixon, Elise Hogan and Jess Kennedy. Elise retired in 2018 after 4 games due to concussion. Jess won the 2018 B&F but had a quieter year in 2019 – it just looks like neither she or Kate were redrafted to the AFLW list.
I guess that’s a reminder that this is not a charity, not muck-up-day, not a sideshow. This is a national league, these women are playing for their lives, and no-one gets a game without fighting for it. But Jess, Kate and Elise will always be on the Virtual Duffle Coat.
Mae O’Reilly is writing a match report so I won’t spend long on the game itself. Our defence was under siege throughout (conceded 1.8 in the first half) but I loved how they did their jobs. Like Sudanese AFLM players, Akec Makur Chuot stands out on appearance alone, but she was outstanding in her role at fullback. I felt like watching her and Seymour, Miller, Monahan – this is a back six I can get behind and I WILL learn everyone’s names.
Our first AFLW goal came through power forward Sabrina Frederick, and it was a wonderful moment. But how was the second goal; a big blonde nº8 for the Tigers takes the contested mark then plays on, sells the dummy and steers the long kick right through the middle. It’s hokey to compare to JR8 but I’m doing it anyway, well done Courtney Wakefield.
Next week: Gold Coast. Now its about the four points.