FEMALE participation in Australian football soared by 46 per cent this year, further highlighting the need for the AFL to establish a national women's competition.
There were 163 new female football teams that began in 2015, with the number of women now taking part in the game reaching 284,501.
With the League keen to capitalise on the success of the recent Melbourne-Western Bulldogs women's exhibition matches with the establishment of a national competition in the next few years, females playing the game now makes up 22 per cent of all participants.
It's an increase of 19 per cent overall from 2014.
And, participation across both genders has broken a new record with total figures growing to 1,247,610 nationally this year, which is an eight per cent rise on 2014.
An additional 2,013,172 people were engaged through school or community based clinics and promotions, which is a growth of 33 per cent from 1,500,000 in 2014.
The results were unveiled on Tuesday morning at Wesley College, with AFL general manager of game and market development Simon Lethlean buoyed by the figures.
"The record growth in female football follows the success of the two AFL women's exhibition matches this year, the second of which was televised live across Australia, and reinforces the need to establish a national female competition," Lethlean said.
"Australian Football is the greatest game in the world and the industry as a whole has made a considerable effort to make sure it is a safe, inclusive and fun environment that provides opportunities for everyone, regardless of their background, gender or ability."
Total Participation grew by 8.0 per cent to reach 1,247,610
· 597,538 played in structured competitions (up 3.5 per cent)
· 650,072 participated in introductory programs (up 13 per cent)
Community Club participation grew by 1.4 per cent to 336,108
· Strong growth in junior (4 per cent) and youth girls (33 per cent) football
· There are now 253 leagues, 2,763 clubs and 13,873 community club teams nationally – with 226 new teams taking the field in 2015
A total of 239,144 students played in school competitions, with another 467,145 involved in introductory programs, representing an increase of 13 per cent.
· 8.3 per cent growth in primary aged inter-school football competitions
· 1.3 per cent growth in secondary inter-school football
· 17.7 per cent growth in school program participation
NAB AFL Auskick participation grew by 2.5 per cent to 182,927
· The increase was largely driven by an increase in 5-8 year olds who now make up 85 per cent of the program demographic (was 65 per cent five years ago)
A total of 22,286 people played in a McDonalds AFL 9s competition on the back of 23.5 per cent growth.
· 15 new venues established in 2015