A second women’s exhibition match will be played at Etihad Stadium between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs on Sunday. In its short three-year history, the support and popularity of the women’s exhibition game continues to grow.
Sunday will be the first time the curtain raisers have been played twice in a season, while these matches will stand alone in a national female competition in the next few years. More than 268 women from all over Australia nominated for the AFL national women’s draft earlier this year, with the two teams fielding some of the nation’s best talent.
Here’s what you can look forward to this weekend.
For the first time in history, a women’s football match will be broadcast live on television. This means not only better access for fans unable to attend the exhibition match, but a whole new audience.
Finally women’s footy will be available for viewing in living rooms all across Australia. Listen out for AFL Victoria female football development manager Chyloe Kurdas, who will be providing special comments throughout the broadcast. You can catch the game on Channel 7 from 12.30pm AEST.
A mini-draft was held in July, allowing the two teams to freshen up their lists with five new picks. With so much talent to choose from, it is great to see that more female footballers will get their opportunity in the spotlight.
The Western Bulldogs selected:
- Pick number one Brianna Davey (St Kilda Sharks)
- All-Australian youth girls Caitlyn Edwards (East Fremantle) and Tahlia Randall (Nambour-Marrochydore)
- Emma Humphries (Burnie Dockers)
- Maddy Collier (University of NSW)
- Young guns Britt Bonnici and Jenna Bruton (St Kilda Sharks)
- Jess Dal Pos (Darebin)
- Ruck-forward Sabrina Frederick-Traub (South Fremantle)
- Tiarna Ernst (Diamond Creek)
Some serious talent
Western Bulldogs took Davey at pick number one in the mini-draft with good reason. Davey played junior footy until the age of 12 when she switched to pursue soccer professionally. She became part of the national soccer team the Matildas as a goalkeeper until May this year, when she narrowly missed out on World Cup selection.
Keen to return to footy for the first time since her junior days, Davey joined the St Kilda Sharks in the VWFL and quickly became a regular in the team’s best. Bulldogs coach Craig Starcevich said the selection came down to her versatility as a big-bodied midfielder who could play forward and back. The Bulldogs hope Davey’s pace, power, penetrating kick and experience as a professional athlete will help the team over the line.
One of the top-rated female footballers in the country, Donnellan has represented Melbourne in all three women’s matches so far. The Swan Districts footballer played half back in the first two women’s matches, played with illness in 2014 and then produced a best on ground performance earlier this year, leading Melbourne to victory with 23 possessions, seven inside 50s and four tackles. Expect another big game from this consistent competitor.
Meet and greet
Melbourne Football Club is getting into the girl’s footy spirit, running an all-girls Auskick clinic at Gosch’s Paddock the day before the big game. The Melbourne women’s team will run the free session for girls aged five to 14 from 10 to 11am on Saturday 15 August. There will be a chance for the young attendees to meet their idols with a photo and autograph session to take place at the end of the clinic. It is a great initiative to inspire young girls to take up the sport.
Melbourne has the wood over the Bulldogs, having won every match played between the two sides in their three-year history. In 2013 and 2014 the wins were substantial (32 points and 46 points respectively), but earlier this year Melbourne only came away with an eight-point win and were held goalless by the Bulldogs in the second and third terms. The Bulldogs are desperate for their first win and with the help of a highly rated number one draft pick, they may be in with a chance.