The AFL Women's competition reached new heights in 2021. Photo: Melbourne FC

AFLW’s 2021 season has been a season of remarkable growth, with the high standard of play on the field translating into massively increased viewership, participation and engagement.

Season 2021 for AFLW has been new ground for the game, breaking through the glass ceiling.

With an expanded fixture, improved talent, and the space to grow, AFLW has taken success to heights that could hardly have been dreamed of just five years ago when the competition kicked off.

Televised games have been viewed by over five million people across the season, making sure that restricted crowd numbers due to COVID restrictions have turned up en masse at living rooms around Australia.

In the first year of ticketed attendance at matches, fans turned up in droves (up to COVID capacity).

In round one, everyone wanted to get a hold of a ticket to go and watch the return of football in Victoria, with three games selling out entirely. Across the rest of the year, a further 10 games reached full capacity.

Membership also reached a new high, with almost 25,000 members registered across the competition. Across Australia, the women’s game is growing at a grassroots level, with more than 600,000 women and girls playing football in 2021.

It’s not just on the field that AFLW is kicking goals though.

With an expanded season for 2021, more than 80% of commercial partners in the AFL have invested in AFLW partnerships. For context, it was just 10% when the competition kicked off.

The AFLW Competition is also a leader in inclusion in sport, with the first dedicated Pride Round, as well an inaugural Indigenous Round. The league also debuted a round that was good for footy, with the Toyota Good for Footy Round being a partnership between the men’s and women’s game celebrating the great game of Australian Rules.


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Kylie Rogers, AFL Executive GM of Customer and Commercial highlighted that “the competitive advantage offered by women’s football is in the quality of commitment, accessibility, engagement and storytelling of talent within our growing network.”

“After the 2021 [home and away] season, we were proud to extend and grow partnerships with long term valued partners AAMI, Bunnings and Hostplus showcasing their ongoing commitment to the AFL and AFLW.”

AFLW has increased professionalism across the game and is normalising everyone’s involvement in the game. Many fans of AFLW have found positive role models for women, and forged a new pathway for women and girls to realise their dreams of playing the sport professionally.


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“[The partners of the AFLW] share in the vision and belief that all women and girls have a right to play, participate and work in Australian Rules Football,” Rogers said, thanking all the partners for their support and commitment to the game.

In many ways, it could not be more fitting that the greatest AFLW season will finish with a look back at its roots, as the inaugural Grand Finalists meet again, with the Brisbane Lions taking on the Adelaide Crows.

While so much has been seen and achieved in Season 2021 for the AFLW, there remains one more story to be written.

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