The expansion trading periods for debuting AFLW teams set to bring the league to 14 teams by 2020 has upset the fans of the founding eight clubs.
The 2018 expansion trading period, earlier this year, was a ten-day signing period where North Melbourne and Geelong were able to poach up to four players each from existing teams.
A second signing period will take place next year when the AFLW adds another four teams bringing the 2020 league total to 14 teams.
Georgia Bower a GWS supporters and an AFL player in the Sydney region competition for the East Coast Eagles said: “From the leagues point of view (expansion trading), it is the quickest way to bring experience into the new teams but from a club’s point of view it is the quickest way to take it out.”
Out of the eight existing teams, five teams, Brisbane Lions, Melbourne Demons, Carlton, Western Bulldogs and Collingwood lost the maximum number of players to the new teams.
Fearn R Harrison who has been labelled the #1 Collingwood AFLW supporter by the Collingwood women’s team themselves said, “The eight founding clubs had to start from scratch getting players so part of me is bitter about it. I think four was way too many to take from a club, perhaps it should've been two.”
“Something that hurt us at Collingwood was that we lost three forwards,” Ms Harrison said.
The rules and regulations for the 2018 trading period did not specify caps according to position, allowing up to four players from each line to be taken from any one team.
“There have been learnings that have come out of the expansion signing period this year that will be considered when we go into this period next year,” an AFL spokesperson said.
Despite woes over the expansion process, fans welcome more competition.
“In the long run it’s only going to improve. The more locations that are represented the more women and girls have the opportunity to get involved,” Ms Bower said.
With the expansion of the league, the competition is set to see a massive influx of players in the next two years.
“The reality is there just isn’t the depth of players there who are at that level, but they have to come from somewhere.”
“There is a big wave of female participation about to turn 18,” the AFL spokesperson said.
“And then there are other players who have been recruited out of another sport,” Ms Bower said.
She said that in the short term there was a risk of injury as there will be a wide range of player ability from elite to inexperienced and for the most part, “girls haven’t grown up playing contact sport.”
“Short term, it could affect the quality but there’s no telling until we’re there.”