Perth match could break women’s sporting attendance record

A near century-old women’s sporting record could be broken come February 10 when the Fremantle Dockers women’s team take on Collingwood at Optus Stadium.

The historic match, which will be the first AFL match ever to be played at the new 60,000-seat venue, is expected to attract more than 30,000 fans.

The last time such a crowd gathered for an n women’s sporting event was in 1929 when a gypsy moth biplane swooped down and dropped a football into Adelaide Oval to make the first bounce at a women’s charity carnival football match.

The match – played between staff at a department store and a pyjama factory – attracted 41,000 people through the gates during a South n National Football League bye weekend.

Adelaide newspapers at the time reported “women played a notable part in the carnival, and several of the most spectacular events were provided by girl athletes” and that the match was “about the best advertised thing of the year”.

Fast-forward 89 years and a little closer to home, the state government on Monday lobbied for Perth to get behind the Fremantle Dockers women’s team and help break the 1929 attendance record.

Sport Minister Mick Murray said $2 tickets to the game would go on sale from 9am on Tuesday, January 16.

“This match gives all Western ns the opportunity to be part of sporting history,” he said.

“For anyone who didn’t get a ticket to the Community Open Day, this is a great opportunity to be one of the first to visit Optus Stadium – at a cost of only $2.”

Fremantle Dockers women’s coach Michelle Cowan said the opportunity to open AFL at the new ground was an incredible step forward for women’s sport.

“I love the message that girls are playing AFL at the highest level and opening this stadium,” she said.

“Anyone who hasn’t seen the women’s team may be surprised at the skill level and the athleticism… they’re relentless.”

Cowan said if the stadium reaches capacity during the Round 2 match, the club would break every attendance record for AFL – both men and women’s leagues – in the state.

“We could make some serious history,” she said.

“We’d only hold it for a couple of weeks [until the AFL derby], but there is opportunity there so Perth needs to rally support and it will be great.”

Women’s Interests Minister Simone McGurk said having the women’s AFL match be the first football game played at Optus Stadium showed how far women’s sport had come in WA.

“The current AFLW record crowd is 24,568, held by Carlton and Collingwood, and we want everyone’s help to surpass that and bring the record home to Western ,” she said.

“If we could even top the all-time n record that would be sensational.

“We have seen huge increases in participation and interest in recent years in a whole range of women’s sports – and AFL Women’s has been instrumental to that success.”