MELBOURNE will have the first pick in the inaugural women’s draft, after it won a coin toss with the Western Bulldogs.
The two clubs will select their players alternatively this Wednesday night at the MCG. More than 200 women have nominated for the Draft.
A Melbourne women’s team will play a Western Bulldogs women’s side as a curtain-raiser to their round 14 clash at the MCG on Saturday night, June 29. The match will start 5.10 pm.
The match is a culmination of the two clubs’ strong links with women’s football. Melbourne is the major sponsor of the Victorian Women’s Victorian Football League.
Melbourne co-captain Jack Grimes will be an assistant coach for the Melbourne women’s team, and Bulldogs midfielder/forward Shaun Higgins will be his side’s assistant.
Grimes said the Draft and the upcoming match was exciting for all football supporters.
“There will be plenty of talent running around, so come along and hopefully the Dees get a win on what’s a really historic game for the AFL and women’s footy,” Grimes said.
“They’ve got some skill and it’s a great standard of footy that these girls play, so to see the best in Australia come out and play on the ‘G, we’re really excited.
“It’s great to see the first AFL women’s game is going to be played – I think it’s a really good step in the right direction. Melbourne is the oldest club in the land and to be involved is a really good initiative. We’re really hoping to see, one day, that women’s footy gets the same opportunities as the men’s does.”
But the injured Demon said he wasn’t sure which tack he’d take as a coach.
“I’ve got to work out what angle I’m going to go down with the coaching role – it’ll be the nice guy or the hard nut, I don’t know,” he said with a laugh.
“I’ll assess that before the game.”
Higgins, who is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury, said it was a fantastic initiative by all concerned to get the match up and running.
“We’ve been running women’s round with Melbourne for a number of years now, which is great, so it’s good to be part of it,” he said.
“It’ll be great to get as many supporters as possible – not just of the two clubs, but of the AFL – to support women’s round.
“More games in the public eye … and more games on Etihad [Stadium] and the MCG and [having] big crowds would be great for them.”
Lou Wootten, a Melbourne supporter, was eagerly awaiting her opportunity to play in the match.
“It’s pretty surreal. To be given the opportunity to play on this fantastic ground – it’s one of the best sporting grounds in the world. If I get the chance to play, it’ll be absolutely amazing,” he said.
“I think it’s really positive for women’s football to get some recognition in the AFL, and especially for the two clubs.
“I’m really excited that Melbourne’s on board, but Melbourne’s been involved in women’s football for the last couple of years, so I think they’re a real stand out club in the AFL in supporting women’s football.”
Wootten was hopeful that women’s football would gain greater recognition in the future.
“There’s still people out there that don’t know that women do play football, and that the league has been going for over 25 years.
“For people still not to know that – I think this would be a great opportunity for the league and women’s football.
“Hopefully in the future, women can have a national league and potentially play in an AFL club.”
Steph Chiocci said it would be an honour to play on the home of football.
“If we can get a good crowd in to watch us, it’ll be amazing,” she said.
“We’ve done it before, but I think this time it’ll be even more special.
“Two key clubs in Victoria are involved – the Bulldogs were on board early and Melbourne has been a major sponsor for the last few years, so we’ve very grateful for the exposure and hopefully it leads us into the national league one day.”
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