Opinion

Format becomes AFL’s ex

By James Bennett

The decision by the AFL to scrap its high paced, colourful T20 version of football, referred to as AFLX, is a relief.

Sometimes moderation is the key to success – always leave the audience wanting more.

The AFL has a fixation of ramming its sport down our throats pretty much all year long.

There are some people that weirdly breathe Aussie rules for 12 months and that’s fine, but for the most of us just the regular round one until the last Saturday in September will do.

Introducing us to a version of the sport where the boundary is in a rectangle with players mic'd up and walking in the stadium trying to emulate American sport stars was never going to work.

Yes, it was lighthearted and designed for entertainment purposes, especially with the younger audience, but the concept, even to the most die-hard AFL fan, it didn't work.

Maybe because of the toxic energy towards the AFL on the overall "look of the game" is so high, trying to sell something no-one is interested in left them no alternative.

By scrapping AFLX, the focus now turns to AFL Women’s during the preseason time of the year. This eight-to-10-week period is the perfect entree to the AFL.

It’s unlikely to see the AFLW ever becoming as big as the men’s league. But there’s nothing wrong with that.

Rather than trying to compare the skill level or wages of the two leagues, the ultimate goal should be to create a professional sport all women and girls can play.

At this stage, the female players have made it clear they want to play at a separate time of the year to the men.

Instead of playing as the curtain raiser to the men's matches, which in some cases would be epic (Anzac Day with 90 000 plus in attendance), the AFLW is comfortable to develop independently.

From early February to the late March period, the Australian Open tennis event has finished and the cricket is starting to finally coming to an end.

During this period, AFLW is being played, but so is the men’s preseason.

The media has a responsibility to ensure the women’s regular season is a priority to the men’s preseason.

AFLW shouldn’t be focusing on capturing the attention of men. Its target audience during the development period has to be young girls.

Women have the same right has men to play professional Aussie Rules football and most importantly earn a decent salary.

Those young girls who are watching at age five now will be begging Mum and Dad to sign them up for Auskick.

Once they have that desire and passion to play Aussie Rules, it’ll never leave them.

Twenty years later, those same girls will be playing at a much better standard than their idols.

Match day attendance and TV ratings will increase, pay will be better and their names will be splashed across news headlines.

AFLW will not only be a professional league of football, but it can be its own brand and identity of Aussie Rules football.

As stated before, moderation is part of the key to success. By subtly growing AFLW it will become a huge success in years to come.