A Physiotherapist’s first impression of Women’s AFL

A Physiotherapist’s first impression of Women’s AFL

How would you play with huge crowds watching you for the first time, a massive media build up, money and reputation on the line?Living your dream of playing in AFL colours with all the trappings of AFL?

Under the excitement of the occasion, these girls are simply crashing into each other, giving little respect to their safety. Great for the team, spectators and TV viewers but are their bodies equipped for the collisions? Even in Round one, I can see numerous players with strapped shoulders, knees and elbows. More than the AFL men? Hard to say but keep an eye on this and how many players are needed during the course of a fairly short season.

The female anatomy is different to the male at a musculoskeletal level. There is less muscle bulk and tone and more ligamentous laxity around joints – a recipe for less joint stability and less padding to absorb bumps, tackles and falls.At this frenetic pace, with skill errors made due to over excitement and team cohesion failures, accidents will happen.

I worry when I see fumbles that lead to players bending forward and being bumped around the shoulder/neck area .I worry when players fall heavily going for a pack mark. I worry when players are tackled to the ground.Their bodies have never been exposed to a team of opponents of this speed, strength and aggression before. Certainly not week after week.These are now girls that train 2 or 3 times per week, work out in the gym regularly and play with passion-for keeps!

This weekend, the games were low scoring. Lets hope that the games will start to flow, become more open and scoring will rise. It doesn’t seem right to see large packs and bodies crashing to the ground, but maybe I am wrong and these special athletes will cope.