Four Australian Defence Force women will be part of Australian Football League (AFL) history this weekend when the AFL Women’s Competition kicks off.
CAPTION: Australian Army soldier Private Kate Lutkins kicks for goal during the ADF Australian Rules Championships in April 2016. Kate is expected to line out for the Brisbane Lions on Sunday. Photo by Nunu Campos.
Army’s Heather Anderson and Navy’s Rhiannon Metcalfe are expected to be part of the inaugural Adelaide Crows squad when they line up against the GWS Giants on Saturday (5.05pm), with Sydney-based Army officer Clare Lawton expected to line out on the Giants side of the paddock.
A third Army member, Kate Lutkins is expected to be picked for the Brisbane Lions squad playing on Sunday (5.05pm) against Melbourne.
Every game will be televised on Fox Footy.
AFL Commissioner and ADF Australian Rules Women’s Patron, Major General Simone Wilkie said the selection of the ADF women was an outstanding achievement.
“The ADF could not be prouder of having four women compete in the first round of the AFL Women’s national competition,” Major General Wilkie said.
“It is an historic moment not just for the players to compete at the elite level but also for the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army.
“Our players – Heather, Clare, Rhiannon and Kate – are inspirational role models for women and girls across the nation.”
Australian Defence Force Australian Rules Chairman Major General Matthew Hall said the selection of four ADF women highlighted the calibre of elite sport in Defence.
“The standard of competition for AFL in Defence is very high and our women’s achievements at the national level point to exciting opportunities for pursuing both a professional career and sport in the ADF,” Major General Hall said.
“The AFL has taken a positive step forward in promoting women in sport and the commencement of the national women’s competition is much anticipated.
“I am also proud to be part of an organisation that promotes women and diversity in our national sport.
The inclusive nature of ADF Australian Rules reflects our values and spirit.”
The 2017 AFLW season begins on Friday February 3 when traditional rivals Collingwood and Carlton clash at Ikon Park.
The eight-team league will last for seven weeks, with each team playing each other once, before the top two sides face off in the Grand Final on Saturday, 25 March.
The rules will be slightly different to what footy fans are used to. Teams will field 16 players with extended six-player benches and unlimited interchanges. A smaller football will be used while games will feature four 15-minute quarters plus time on.