A HISTORIC vote will take place next Tuesday at the AFL Players' Association annual general meeting to pave the way for female players to sit on the association's board.
The move comes with the full support of the existing 10-man players' board and the AFLPA executive.
If approved it will signal a significant shift in the representation of the organisation that came into being in 1974 to represent all current and past AFL players.
It will also be further recognition of the growing professionalism and voice of women in football.
Members who attend the meeting next Tuesday will also be asked to vote to formally bring female members into the AFLPA, and agree to a proposal to elect up to two independent directors from outside the membership on to the board.
AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh told AFL.com.au the board had identified the need for independent directors to be involved in decision-making and guidance as the game's issues required expertise that sometimes lay outside the remit of players.
"The business is becoming more and more complex as the industry grows and as we grow, and we need diversity and a breadth of skills on the board," Marsh said.
The 10-man board is set for significant change with the playing careers of Jimmy Bartel, Chris Dawes, Ted Richards and Will Minson ending and former North Melbourne forward Drew Petrie now playing for West Coast as a rookie.
However AFL.com.au understands current president Matthew Pavlich is expected to continue in the role for another year as talks continue on a new collective bargaining agreement for players.
In November, the AFLPA represented females in the AFLW competition to establish a two-year minimum collective bargaining agreement that guaranteed marquee players $27,000, second tier players $12,000 and the remainder of players $8500 during the competition's first season, with increases expected in the second season.
The AFLPA's involvement ensured the initial offer from the AFL was increased.
Melbourne's marquee player Daisy Pearce was a significant figure in those discussions that established conditions for women playing in the pioneering AFLW competition.
Pearce has been one of the stars of the new competition that has attracted just under 1 million television viewers a weekend in its first season.