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AFLW eyes now turn to 2018 season

The stunning success of the inaugural AFLW season has everyone looking to 2018 - AFLW
The stunning success of the inaugural AFLW season has everyone looking to 2018

THE CROWNING of Adelaide as premier and the handing out of individual awards brought the inaugural NAB AFL Women's competition to an end, so eyes will now turn to next season.

The AFL has indicated all elements of the first season will be reviewed.

On Monday, the AFL's football operations manager Simon Lethlean flagged a free agency and trade period, likely to start on May 1.

Here are some other topics those shaping next year's competition are likely to be considering:

The size of the playing lists

Originally capped at 27 or 28 (depending on pre-season injuries to marquee players), injuries sustained during the season meant clubs were calling on academy players to fill spots on the field.

Those players often hadn't trained with the club during pre-season and had to slot in with unfamiliar teammates and game-plans.

A list of at least 30 would allow clubs to carry players with short-term injuries while not being forced to field out-of-form players.

Adding extra finals

With a Grand Final spot up for grabs coming into the final round, Melbourne and Carlton were considered unlucky to miss out.

An extra week of finals would add further excitement to the competition, but makes the scheduling of the season more challenging.

The first round of the AFLW season was deliberately slated after the Australian Open tennis tournament, and the seven-week regular season slotted in perfectly between the tennis and round one of the AFL season.

An extra week of finals (with the addition of two preliminary finals) would mean either starting the AFLW season earlier, which would clash with the Australian Open finals (January 27-28), or finishing later, potentially resulting in the final two weeks being overshadowed by the start of the AFL home and away action.


The grounds with greater capacity (Ikon Park in Melbourne and Thebarton and Norwood ovals in Adelaide) could be used more next year. There's also likely to be some discussion with Collingwood about its home venue. Two of the Magpies' home games were moved away from Olympic Park Oval, which while conveniently located, is cramped and struggles to cater for anything more than a small crowd.

The round-five clash between Adelaide and the Brisbane Lions, one of the most exciting matches of the season, was played at Norwood Oval, which had a smaller playing area than most other AFLW venues.

Consequently, players were able to move the ball from one end of the ground to the other with ease, especially compared to the laboured efforts of teams playing on big grounds like Domain Stadium in Perth.

Moving the boundary line in for matches played at larger grounds is likely to be discussed.

Match starting times

Several games were played in mid- or late-afternoon slots in stifling summer conditions. Although a heat policy extending breaks can be enforced for matches played in extreme heat and/or humidity, the AFL might look at minimising the number of matches played during the hottest part of the day.


The AFL made a rule change for last week's AFLW Grand Final, with time-on added after all scores and when the ball went out of bounds. Prior to that, time-on was added only after goals and long injury delays. Look for that rule to be permanently in place for the 2018 season.

The AFL will also closely study the impacts of using a smaller than normal football and the 16-a-side system in place this year.