Female footy fans a secret weapon

Female footy fans are being dubbed the AFL’s secret weapon.

When you’re sitting in the stadium watching an AFL game, it’s easy to see why – just take a look around at how many women are in the grandstand and the passion they bring to the game.

I remember two dear ladies of a certain age sitting in the stands at the Gabba for a Carlton v Brisbane game some years back. Not wanting to stereotype, but this pair of Blues fans had hair the same colour as their team’s footy jumpers. Content to sit and do their knitting pre-match, once the whistle blew it was a completely different story. They were up out of their seats barracking as only a one-eyed Carlton supporter can. These ladies knew every player, every statistic, every injury ever suffered, everything there ever was to know about AFL. I think I watched them more than the football game.

Aussie women love their footy. While many football games overseas are played in front of a predominantly male crowd, in Australia, women make up around 40% of a typical football match crowd – it’s higher for AFL, and slightly lower for the NRL.

Round 10 of the National Rugby League season this weekend is also all about the women, with the annual Women in League Round underway.

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The themed round acknowledges the key role women play in the game and highlights the number of women enjoying the game is on the rise.

Over the last 18 months in NRL there has been a 31 per cent growth in female club registrations and a 26 per cent increase in school participation. Total female participation is now more than 171,000.

NRL Chief Operating Officer Suzanne Young told this week’s launch the Women in League Round, now in its ninth year, provides the opportunity for the women in our game to feel proud of their roles and contribution to Rugby League.

“Whether it is as administrators, players, coaches, employees, volunteers or club members, women really are at the heart of the game. There are now more than 90 female competitions in Australia. There are also more than 400,000 women playing a format of the game, Touch, Tag or Tackle. Female club membership is in excess of 71,000 and there are 1100 female registered referees, coaches and sports trainers, as well as thousands of volunteers.”

Are you a woman who loves going to the football, be it AFL or NRL? What do you love about the footy and what keeps you coming back every weekend?