*This is part two of a book extract from Angela Pippos’ Breaking The Mould: Taking A Hammer To Sexism In Sport*
The AFLW ‘class of 2017’ got to this point on their own – with society firmly against them.
They stuck with the code despite the code offering no clear pathway.
So not only are they strong role models because of the way they play the game, but they’re also strong role models for showing what you can achieve when you stare convention in the face and crash through.
Furthermore, they bring so much goodwill to a game that’s had more than its share of off-field drama.
Every athlete should feel valued by their sport.
A few nights after announcing the pay proposal, the AFL staged the All-Stars match between the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne at the Whitten Oval – the last in a series of exhibition games between the two trail-blazing clubs.
I went along in my role as a documentary-maker; I’d had every reason to believe that the game was going to be a success, and the affirmation of this belief couldn’t have been any more complete.
We set up on the boundary line just as [former Western Bulldogs vice-president] Susan Alberti was making her way to her seat in the grandstand.
Through the lens I watched her ascent, replaying in my head a conversation we’d had an hour before while waiting for the team bus to arrive.
Alberti insisted on greeting every one of ‘her players’ as they disembarked from the bus.
She talked through the range of her emotions: joy, pride, exhilaration, and sadness for those players who’d be leaving the Bulldogs to join other clubs after the match.
While all this was running through my head, my eyes still on her, the most amazing thing happened – the crowd spontaneously gave her a standing ovation. It was a special night.
Free-flowing with few stoppages, the game spoke for itself.
The feeling around the ground transcended club allegiance; we were all witness to something much bigger, something that would change the game forever.
A new game had announced itself, and we were all on the same side – football by and for women.
In the winning rooms afterwards, where the players sang ‘Daughters of the West’, I stood arm in arm with sports journalist Sam Lane. We hugged each other, saying, ‘We’ve made it, we’ve finally made it.’
It had an average television audience of 387,000 in Melbourne, making it the highest-rating Saturday night game of the year.
No matter which way you look at it, the women have worked hard for their $8500.
To return to part one of the extract, please click here.
This is an extract from Angela Pippos’ Breaking The Mould: Taking A Hammer To Sexism In Sport (Affirm Press). Available now, $29.99