Steve Price – get used to it.
While the media commentator and host has doubled down on his comments describing AFLW as “substandard” and “not elite”, Richmond’s Sarah Hosking had her own reality check for the controversial personality.
“We’ve made so much progress in the past five years … and we’re only going to continue to grow,” she said.
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“There’s a lot of comparison between men and women in our code … which I find ridiculous, our game is five years old – and men want to compare it their game which is 100 plus years old.
“But you just wait. The game is growing so rapidly at grassroots and when the girls who come through – that have been playing since they were four or five – that crop of talent is going to be phenomenal.”
Since the competition was launched in 2017, 7.3 million Australians now express interest in the women’s league and there are 2540 girls’ and women’s community football teams scattered around the country.
The AFLW has also risen to become the single biggest employer of semi-professional sports for women in Australia with 420 players.
Earlier this year, players secured a 94 per cent pay rise across all four tiers, enabling some players to focus solely on football and not supplementary careers.
The increased pay deal means the average salary for all 540 players across 18 clubs is now $46,280 – for tier one players this boosted the average salary to $71,935.
“I am never going to be paid $100,000 in my lifetime but those that come after me will – and I love that those girls will be able to train as fulltime athletes,” Hosking said.
“When I started out football was in its infancy – minimum wage was $8000 … the game has come such a long way since then.
“I see this argument in the media all the time that the women are asking for too much, that our product isn’t good enough … but how do we get better, by becoming fulltime.
“When I started out, I was completing my Bachelor of Business majoring in marketing and event management while working for Coca-Cola and playing football.
“I look back and ask myself how did I juggle all that?
“Our athletes are expected to perform at an elite level, and we do, but we will also be so much better if we were able to train full time and with full access to facilities.
“Our athletes should be rewarded as athletes and paid accordingly.”
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In an exclusive interview with Fox Sports, the experienced midfielder also said:
– With four new teams entering AFLW next season, the season’s fixture list should have every team playing each other once;
– All players should be on a fulltime wage that facilitated fulltime careers;
– It was time for female supporters to “show up” and get bums on their seats at stadiums;
– the Women’s AFL grand final should be played at the MCG.
The location of the AFLW Grand Final is yet to be determined but Hosking, the first Tigers’ AFLW player to reach 50 games, has argued the league, and its players, are ready for the big dance to be played at the hoe of football.
The change in season timing means the larger stadiums are set to be in cricket mode around the finals time of November, with the Grand Final to be played on the weekend of November 26.
The Grand Final has been played at Metricon Stadium (2017, home team Brisbane), Ikon Park (2018, home team Western Bulldogs) and Adelaide Oval (2019, 2021 and 2022, home team Adelaide).
General manager of Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone said: “No discussions on locking it in as yet, but we focus on season seven and putting on not only a great season of 90 home and away matches, but also four weeks of finals.”
But Hosking, 26, said: “The question should be not why should we be playing at the G – but why shouldn’t we be playing there.”
“It’s the best facility.
“It’s not because we will fill it with one hundred thousand people, although that would be great, but shouldn’t we also have access to the best facilities?
“And speaking of crowds, women’s sport is riding a wave of popularity and it’s time for all supporters of women’s sport to get to games – and not just the AFLW.”
Coverage of this year’s AFLW season is part of Kayo’s commitment to women’s sport which features a record number of broadcast hours throughout September and October.