WITHTHE draft done and the national championships completed, the best womenfootballers in the country will play in the inaugural AFL Women's Exhibitiongame on Saturday between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.
Thecurtain raiser is the centre-point of the League's Women's Round, and it couldalso be a glimpse of the future, where each AFL club has a women'srepresentative side.
The50 best players were picked at the first national women's draft last month,with Darebin's Daisy Pearce Melbourne's No.1 selection.
TheMelbourne and Bulldogs players were mixed throughout the states competing atlast week's 2013 National Women's Championships, and Pearce hopes Saturday'sgame will be a precursor to more clubs joining the initiative.
"It'svery exciting, and a very exciting time for the AFL as well; [women's football]is one of the fastest growing aspects of the game so hopefully this is aplatform for some other AFL clubs to get on board," she said on Monday.
"Oneday we might see a women's competition based on a similar structure to theAFL."
Pearcewill captain Melbourne against Aasta O'Connor, who will play for the Bulldogs.
O'Connorsupported Pearce's view more clubs should join the venture.
"[Thenext step] will need to be about getting another AFL team on board andsupporting the idea. So we're putting the idea out there, we're certainly worthit and it's really good for women's football," she said.
Theteams will play for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup, which recognises Barb Hampson andLisa Hardeman, pioneers in developing the first women's championships in 1998. Victoria,Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT contested it.
Thisweek the squads will gather in Melbourne, with the Demons players to train onFriday under the guidance of stand-in coach Neil Craig and co-captain JackGrimes, who will be assistant coach for the side in Saturday night's encounter.
InjuredWestern Bulldogs forward Shaun Higgins will be assistant coach for the Bulldogswomen's team.
"I'mlooking forward to the experience," Grimes said.
"We'vegot a bit of training this week. I've met a few of the girls and got to knowthem. We'll catch up on Friday, when we have a training session together, sowe'll see the girls put through their paces and get ready for the big game.
"I'msure there's going to be a few nervous girls going into it."FollowAFL website reporter Callum Twomey on twitter at @AFL_CalTwomey.