AFLW competition to expand to 18 teams in 2022/23 with new clubs Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney

Samantha RogersThe West Australian
The AFLW will expand to an 18-team competition by 2022, meaning every club will have female representation at elite level.
Camera IconThe AFLW will expand to an 18-team competition by 2022, meaning every club will have female representation at elite level. Credit: Mark Brake/via AFL Photos

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has announced the AFLW will expand to an 18-team competition by 2022.

Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney will join the league, which started with just eight teams in 2017.

McLachlan said the decision to fast-track the remaining four clubs was due to AFL clubs not feeling whole without female representation at elite level.

He said the AFLW competition will now be “complete”.

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“To accelerate the growth of the NAB AFLW Competition and to allow for greater opportunities for AFLW players, it is paramount that we engage all 18 AFL clubs and their supporter bases,” McLachlan said today.

“The decision to expand the competition again, after the AFLW was expanded from eight teams to 10 teams in 2019 and then to 14 teams in 2020, comes as the number of women and girls playing football has grown to more than 600,000 nationally.

“With an additional four clubs entering the Competition in Season Seven, we will grow to 540 AFLW players across all 18 clubs, the largest employer of female athletes in the country, presenting further opportunities for women and girls involved in women’s football pathways, from Auskick to the elite competition.

Gillon McLachlan, Chief Executive Officer of the AFL.
Camera IconGillon McLachlan, Chief Executive Officer of the AFL. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

“It has been often said that clubs haven’t felt whole if they didn’t have an AFLW team, and I am proud to say that our competition will now be complete with the addition of the new four clubs.

“The entry into the competition is based on the clubs delivering on the key criteria within their submission, especially across resourcing, facilities, corporate support and investment into their AFLW program.”

“The NAB AFLW Competition has built a new audience base for the code with some 4.5 million AFLW fans, 155,908 attendees, 6.1 million viewers and an incredible 20 per cent of supporters who are new or first-time AFL attendees.

“But we don’t feel that the competition is whole without all 18 clubs and we know from the clubs that they don’t feel whole now without an AFLW team.

“AFLW is not just a competition that makes our game better but a culture that makes our whole industry better.”

The 2021 Grand Final.
Camera IconThe 2021 Grand Final. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

The Hawks currently have a VFLW team, coached by Bec Goddard, as do the Bombers, coached by Brendan Major.

Port Adelaide and Sydney both have junior academy programs.

The upcoming 2021/22 season will remain as a 14-team competition, with lists for the expansion clubs to begin at it’s conclusion.

MORE TO COME.

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