TRADITIONAL heavyweights Carlton and Collingwood join Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs as the Victorian contingent in the first year of the AFL national women's league.
Game-changer: Football history is made at the MCG
Fremantle has edged out West Coast in the battle of the west to be the Perth-based team in the eight-club inaugural competition.
Adelaide, Brisbane Lions and Greater Western Sydney are the other non-Victorian clubs to compete in the eight-week season in February-March next year.
The other AFL club applicants, Richmond, Geelong, North Melbourne and St Kilda, along with the Eagles, have been granted provisional licences to be part of an expanded women's league in 2018, depending on development of the game in their areas.
Disappointed there won't be a Saints team playing in inaugural NWL but looking forward to 2018. Thanks to everyone who has supported our bid— Matt Finnis (@Matt_Finnis) June 15, 2016
Full statement from the AFL and Mike Fitzpatrick's speech
Next season's women's competition will feature six home-and-away rounds, with the top four playing two semi-finals and a Grand Final.
The women's Grand Final could be played in the week between the end of the NAB Challenge and the start of the AFL season, or as a curtain-raiser to the AFL season opener at the MCG on either a Thursday or Saturday night.
The eight women's teams granted licences to compete in 2017
- Brisbane Lions
- Greater Western Sydney
- Western Bulldogs
Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce was among a group of top-line players at the launch, including Tayla Harris, Brianna Davey, Lauren Arnell, Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Darcy Vescio. They're expected to be marquee signings for the competing clubs.
"It's great to have the opportunity to play an elite sport out on an elite arena in a professional environment. But more so, to look around today and see those little girls who will grow up knowing that's something they can achieve is amazing,'' Pearce said.
Club representatives with Gillon McLachlan and Mike FItzpatrick at Wednesday's launch
Pearce said the summer pre-season training and games in the heat wouldn't be a major problem.
"It will be pretty warm, but we would normally be in pre-season training at that time of the year anyway. And I think the quarters may be a tad shorter for that reason,'' she said.
"I have to take myself out of the bubble and realise what an amazing revolution this is. I work at Melbourne and play every weekend and sometimes you have to reflect on how enormous this is.
"It's the biggest code and the biggest sporting body in the country and certainly here it's a big part of the culture of Melbourne and to now have the opportunity to play this sport means a lot to girls."
A group of emerging players at the launch included Abbie McKay, 15-year-old daughter of Carlton's football operations manager and premiership defender Andrew McKay.
"She has got the talent, it's whether she has the mindset to want to do it,'' McKay said.
"This day has been a long time coming. The number of women and girls playing football has doubled over the last five years,'' AFL commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said at the launch near the city-end goals of the MCG on Wednesday morning.
"Our CEO Gillon McLachlan calls it a revolution and it is. A fully fledged national competition with the best women players will grace AFL grounds, wearing AFL jumpers and representing passionate AFL tribes.
"On behalf of the AFL Commission, I want to express our deep gratitude to those who continue to help grow and develop women's football at all levels.
"The establishment of a national women's league will provide a platform to inspire young girls to reach for the stars and provide another avenue for Australian Rules fans to enjoy. Our game will never be the same.''