AFL supports new initiative to promote gender equality

AFLW star Darcy Vescio has been speaking about her football journey at a forum in Melbourne held to promote gender equality in football clubs.

The ‘Getting Gender in the Game’ forum was held in Essendon. It was part of a wider initiative called ‘Respect: Join the Club’, a Dianella Health program supported by AFL Victoria and the EDFL to tackle gender inequity and domestic violence.

Ms Vescio was interviewed about her experiences as a female footballer by VFL icon and anti-domestic violence advocate, Phil Cleary.

“I think footy is a great driver of conversations – and probably one of the best things about footy is, now that it’s inclusive, it’s a really easy way to understand gender equality,” she told the forum.

Ms Vescio said she had played football in school, but – like many girls – stopped in her early teens.

“I just accepted that was how a footy career went for a girl,” she said, adding “I honestly thought I’d never play again”.

She said the first season of AFLW had exceeded all her expectations.

“It wasn’t until the first game that we realised maybe this is going to be a bit bigger than we first thought,” she said.

The forum also launched the Respect: Joint the Club video, which highlights the way that football is being used as vehicle to drive change in the City of Hume.

Mark Morgan, AFL Victoria’s North-West football development manager, also spoke at the forum about the effects of the initiative at a grassroots level.

“Boys from a young age will be used to girls being an integral part of our footy clubs and see that as the status quo,” he said.

“We are confident that this (initiative) will establish greater respect and acceptance from a younger age between the two genders and have a long lasting effect in regards to creating gender equal rights.”

Story and feature image by Ashlyne McInnes. Feature photo from Dianella Health.