Reigning AFL Women’s Best & Fairest Emma Kearney still believes it’s on the AFL to extend the 2019 season.
With Kearney’s new club, North Melbourne, as well as Geelong joining the AFLW competition, many assumed the length of the season would grow with the expansion, but at this stage it appears the AFL will go with seven weeks of home-and-away footy followed by two finals.
A seven-week season would result in some teams not playing others and Kearney believes they need to work around it for integrity issues.
“(The AFL are) the ones that expanded the competition and they’ve got to back their decision to do that and expand the length of the season as well,” Kearney told SEN Afternoons.
“I don’t mind that free air space that we play in, not overlapping with the men’s season or Big Bash or the Australian Open, but it does compromise the competition in that we don’t actually get to play each team once.
“It’s really hard to make it an even competition in that regard.”
The star midfielder said she personally would be willing to deal with a shorter break between games if it meant playing each team once.
“Whether they can still have it in that eight-week space where we just have shorter breaks, have five-day breaks and we still get to play each team once, that could be a possibility,” Kearney said.
“I would be prepared to do that, but in saying that I’ve got a really flexible workplace. We’ve got to be mindful that a lot of the AFLW players are either studying full-time or working full-time.
“Not all workplaces are as flexible with players taking time off so it’s a difficult one, but I think the AFL needs to take responsibility.”
AFL Players Association CEO Paul Marsh confirmed a seven-week season appears likely for 2019.
“I think we’ll end up with a fixture that’s probably seven home-and-away games and two finals for next year and we’re just working through all of that,” Marsh told SEN’s Whateley.
“The players would prefer nine home-and-away games and two finals, but I think the bigger picture is where is this going to end up and we want to get to a point where this competition is as many games as the men’s at some point.
“Where players can become professionals and devote themselves to the competition.”
Kearney made the move from 2018 AFLW premiers the Western Bulldogs to expansion side North Melbourne and will join the likes of ex-Collingwood marquees Emma King and Moana Hope and former Brisbane star Kaitlyn Ashmore at the club.
Listen to the full interview with Emma Kearney on SEN Afternoons here