Wednesday 29 March 2017
AFL NATIONAL WOMEN'S LEAGUE
Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. T.T. Ngo:
That this council—
- Congratulates the AFL for establishing the National Women's League;
- Wishes the players all the best for the inaugural 2017 season; and
- Recognises the important role that providing elite sporting pathways for women plays to encourage
girls to participate in sport.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (18:13): I rise to support the motion of the Hon. Tung Ngo and commend him for bringing it to this place. Indeed, over the weekend, we reached a milestone in Australian sporting history. For the first time, we had two women's teams competing in an AFL grand final. It was a close game and the Crows stepped up to the challenge and won by six points against the Brisbane Lions—Adelaide 4.11 (35) to Brisbane 4.5 (29)—at the Gold Coast stadium.
Footy allegiances aside, you cannot deny that these mighty young women from the Brisbane Lions, Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, Giants, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have paved the way for girls in Australia who have a real desire to pursue a professional football career. The first AFL women's game was moved from Olympic Park because the game was tipped to be bigger in terms of a crowd than 7,000 people, and that tip was right. The match between Carlton and Collingwood saw hundreds of fans lining up outside as more than 24,000 sat or stood anywhere they could inside to witness that historic match. The TV ratings have also reflected that this is a game whose time has come with almost one million viewers tuning in, proving that not only is professional football something that women want to play, it is something that Australians want to watch.
Crows board member Kate Gould has pointed out that girls used to stop playing football by the age of 12 because that was when the AFL Auskick ended. Adelaide star Erin Phillips has said, 'I was 13 years old and I was told I wasn't allowed to play footy anymore with the boys.' Last night, she was the first woman to win the AFL's best and fairest award—what an inspiration! Here now in 2017, she and her teammates have proven that girls can play not just past 12 but go on to become legends of football and solid role models not just for girls but for boys, men and women alike.
Icons of the until now male-dominated game, including commentator and formerly further involved Graham Cornes, were somewhat sceptical about how women's football would go. I, like many others in this place and no doubt in the community, remember his opinion piece, when he seemed to be worried that women's breasts might get in the way. How ridiculous! To paraphrase the fantastic Erin Brockovich, they are called boobs, Graham, and they did not get in the way of the great Erin Phillips as she led her team to victory on the weekend.
Mr Cornes continued in his op-ed that women players 'can't fill their heads with a false expectation that they can become professional footballers'. Yes, they can, Cornesy, and yes, they did on the weekend. Mr Cornes, unlike the girls now, has been left behind. They are now on an even playing field, and we can look forward to seeing women in the AFL Hall of Fame as we can look forward to seeing positive change in the culture of Australia's most loved and indeed my most loved game. I hope we see that into the future, whether or not their boobs are supposedly getting in the way.
Before the first game, the AFL's first female premiership coach, Adelaide's own Bec
Goddard, said, 'After 32 years as a player, umpire and coach, I never thought this day would come.' The day came and Bec's team won, and what a beautiful moment it was to pull out The Advertiser's souvenir grand final poster today with the all-star female line-up.
All these milestones I think change the way we see society and change the way girls see society. I remember girls of my daughter's age crying when Julia Gillard was no longer prime minister, because they had not realised that a man could be prime minister. I think the day has come when we will see those historic constraints placed upon women and girls forgotten and consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong. With that, I commend this motion, and I look forward to many more seasons of women's football, no matter who your team is.
The Hon. T.T. NGO (18:18): I would like to thank the Hon. Terry Stephens and the Hon. Tammy Franks for their contributions. I would also like to congratulate the Adelaide Crows women's team for winning the first AFL women's premiership. No-one gave them a chance before the season started. As the Hon. Terry Stephens said, many pundits predicted that the Crows would finish last; however, the Port Adelaide Football Club lent Erin Phillips to the Crows to help them move from predicted bottom to top and eventually win the cup.
Once again, I would like to congratulate Erin for winning the best-on-ground medal and all the other awards she has won since then. I also predict that she will end up winning the Crows' best and fairest award tonight as well. With that, thanks everyone, and I commend the motion to the chamber.