By Libby Kimber
As Canberra’s best female AFL players take to the field for the senior women’s grand final, the spotlight is on the national league and the controversy surrounding equal pay. Women’s AFL is kicking off nation-wide, with more and more women taking to the field every year. As the AFL prepares to launch its inaugural national women’s league, conversation has started about the opportunities for women in Australian Rules football.
In NSW and ACT alone, over 60,000 women and girls are registered AFL players, with divisions available for girls from ages five and up. In the nation’s capital, there are female competitions for ages 7-10, under 16’s, under 19’s and seniors.
Captain of Canberra’s Eastlake Demons senior team and AFL Draft hopeful, Kasie Nugent, says that the opportunities for women are certainly getting better.
“It’s fantastic that the AFL has done it… I think it’s a great step in the way of equality,” she said.
However, players are less impressed with the AFL’s decision to pay each female player in the National Women’s League only $5000 a season, compared to an average salary of $300,000 for the male players.
Eastlake Demons player, Rohana Prince, who is also an AFL Draft hopeful, says that the female players deserve to be paid a lot more.
“We’ve just heard that the women will be getting paid $5000 for their first season… you can see that there’s a little way to go still,” she said.
The ‘#BootsOff for fair pay’ social media campaign has seen prominent public figures share photos of themselves with no boots on, in support of the female players whose $5000 salary does not include football boots. The campaign has stated that the AFL is still negotiating salaries for the women with the Players Association.
Although they are disappointed by the AFL’s stance on equal pay, Eastlake Captain Kasie Nugent says the girls aren’t giving up, and wants to encourage other young women to give AFL a try.
“Come on down. It’s not as scary as it looks. You get 30 mates automatically by coming down… it’s the best thing you’ll ever do.”