“If the AFL was a person, I’d hug them,” says Hope. “I guess I just normally stick with Gill McLachlan [AFL CEO] and Simon Lethlean [AFL's general manager of game and market development] for now because they’re running everything, and I’m extremely grateful for them doing all of this, giving women’s sport, women’s football, a go.”
At the official launch of the season this Wednesday, AFL CEO McLachlan said,
“From this weekend, eight proud clubs take to the field. And it will be football like we’ve always known it. There will be upsets […], thrills. Collingwood and Carlton supporters will still hate the sight of each other.
“But it will also be very different. This group of women players will create their own game. This is year one. One hundred and seventy-six women making their debut carry an extraordinary amount on their shoulders. I ask today that we give them time and space to grow into the elite footballers that we know they can be. We are here for the long haul.”
McLachlan also thanked the sponsors, particularly naming partner NAB, that have taken the leap of faith to support this new league.
Hope and Darcy are equally thankful for sponsor support. “Special K has just announced me and Darc as their ambassadors, and they’re sponsoring the AFLW. It’s pretty amazing that they’ve come on board,” says Hope. “I was talking to them yesterday, and to see that they actually really care. They’re not just jumping on board because AFLW is one of the hottest things, they’re jumping on board because they really want to get behind it and they’re really pushing to make a difference for women in sport.”
You can get behind these women in sport by tuning into the matches on Channel 7, FOX FOOTY, the AFL Live Official App and AFL.com.au – every game in the season will be broadcast live. And also by attending the games at the stadiums – for free! Find match locations at www.afl.com.au/womens/matches