Women’s AFL Masters promoted their competition by using the This Girl Can – Victoria campaign as a platform to motivate women of all abilities and ages to play the much-loved game of Australian Rules Football. Initially, AFL Masters was met with resistance by women who felt they weren’t able to join in due to their ability or age. In response, the organisers implemented a national set of standardised rules designed to reduce the risk of injury, and promote care of players over winning. This affirmed the message that ‘you’re never too old’. The competition now has players in their sixties!
Since the competition kicked off in 2018, the Women’s AFL Masters competition has expanded, and it now includes teams from Box Hill North, Chirnside Park, Coburg, Malvern, Melbourne, Mordialloc, Oakleigh, Preston, Werribee and Williamstown. AFL Masters encourages women to get involved regardless of their experience, and to be physically active through all stages of life.
AFL Masters actively used welcoming strategies to make their players feel comfortable. When they realised that women would come along to training, but struggle to get out of their cars because of lack of confidence, they advised clubs to appoint someone to stand in the carpark to greet players as they arrived. This proved to be a very successful plan. AFL Masters saw an increase in the enthusiasm, attendance and sense of belonging felt by their players.
Jill, the Director of Women’s Football Competition at AFL Masters said, “We’ve created a really welcoming and accepting environment for our players. Six teams full of amazing supportive women. When you have your teammates around you, it doesn’t matter what other people think, you’re supported by your squad.”
The numbers of participants grew as word spread about the rewards of sharing in a physical activity with friends, and, consequently, AFL Masters had to work quickly to recruit more volunteers for coaching.
This Girl Can at any ability, age or life circumstance
New to AFL Masters, 40-year-old Kylie has thoroughly enjoyed her experience of the game after not feeling comfortable going to the gym or working with a personal trainer. She said, “After three babies in three years I felt unfit, tired and defeated. Now I can run all day after them as I’m fitter, I’m happier and I feel like I’m part of a family with my new friends and club.”
She continued, “My three children love watching me and are so proud of me. I love that I am inspiring my daughters especially.”
Inspiring women to build community through AFL
The significance of Women’s AFL Masters to their players is evidenced by the community they’ve built. Kylie explained that she has a newfound confidence: “I’m part of a very positive team and they encourage me to push harder than I ever have in any exercise program.”
“We cheer each other on, shower each other with praise for successes and clap and have a laugh when things don’t work out. I am comfortable to be me and this builds my confidence and keeps me going every week, excited to work hard with my teammates,” she said.
Women’s AFL Masters promotes the This Girl Can campaign by:
- Tagging @ThisGirlCanVIC in their Instagram posts
- Using This Girl Can – Victoria templates and resources, and
- Providing a fun and safe environment for women over 30 to be and stay physically active.
Ready for more inspiration? If you’re looking to encourage women to get active and join our community, take a look at our other supporter case studies.
AFL Masters were also able to provide new footballs and uniforms for their women’s team thanks to a VicHealth Active Club Grant. These grants open in February and July each year, so make sure you look out for them!