Last Friday we at FGD sponsored the MSW AFLW Grand Final Lunch. It was a fantastic event in support of a very deserving cause; raising funds for the Domestic Violence Resource Centre of Victoria. A few of us from the office, myself, Frank Chila, Joe Buckley and Cristina Cocchiaro all attended with a group of invitees for lunch and drinks.
At the lunch yours truly gave a speech, not very long, and not very profound but what I spoke about was why AFLW is important to me personally. And it was a theme that was heard throughout the day and put much more eloquently than I did in the end by Sam Lane.
The theme was the impact that AFLW can and will and is having on young girls. Sam spoke about the experience of many young talented girls who have played footy as children. She talked about girls who played with their brothers and cousins and friends and throughout their childhood were just as good, just as fast, just as talented. Then, at the age of 13 the opportunities for them cease, but they see the boys they have grown up with, who are no better than them, ushered into a rarified world of support, coaching, and acclimation.
The girls have not had that opportunity in the past and instead the message that is given to them and that they carry is that they are not worthy. AFLW, and having a professional code for women, means that there is now a pathway for those girls and although it’s not the same path (and I won’t mention the differences in pay, opportunities etc) the difference is not a stark as it was and these girls will not be told that have no hope of doing what they love because of their gender.
The personal aspect that I spoke about was that I am soon to become the mother of a daughter. I live in the west, not far from Teddy Whitten oval, the home of the current reigning AFLW premiers. I am dearly looking forward to taking my daughter to the oval to watch the women train and play. And although if she has anything of my sporting prowess she won’t be champion football player (let’s hope she gets her dad’s skills in that department instead!) for me the important thing is that she will grow up watching women be tough, strong, athletic and playing in what has to me always been a man’s sport, and most importantly she won’t think that it’s special or remarkable. For her it will be normal. And that’s the world that I want for my daughter.