THE AFL has announced record participation of Australian Football across all levels, with more than 1.5 million people playing the game.
A total of 1,547,915 participated in 2017, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.
Females made up 30 per cent of that number after the introduction of the NAB AFL Women's competition this year.
As a point of comparison, cricket had 1.4 million participants, of which 27 per cent were women.
AFL game development manager Andrew Dillon told reporters at Maribyrnong Secondary College on Thursday the aim was to have males and females playing football in equal numbers.
"It is a goal. I think it's a couple of years away but I know anecdotally, I was in Byron Bay for the diversity championships earlier this year and the Byron Bay Magpies will have more girls than boys playing next year," Dillon said.
"It is happening, but it will happen slowly."
The huge lift in women playing the sport was a surprise to the AFL.
"We knew that there would be a big jump on the back of the AFLW, but to be sure, the 76 per cent increase was way beyond our expectations," Dillon said.
"I think we'll get maybe not the same increase, but a substantial increase again for 2018."