The Start of AFLW
Adelaide was one of eight foundation clubs when the AFL launched its national women’s competition in February 2017.
Two months later, Adelaide was celebrating more success when it won the inaugural AFL Women’s grand final, defying expectations to complete an extraordinary year of achievements.
South Australia, rated one of the weaker states for women’s football, was at risk at being overlooked when the AFL announced in early 2016 that it wanted to fast-track its plan to establish a national women’s league.
Fortunately, Adelaide’s strategy to build an elite women’s program started the previous year, in collaboration with the SANFL. Talent trials were organised early in 2016 to launch the SANFL All Stars Program, a women’s football advisory committee was created and some of SA’s best female footballers also trained regularly at West Lakes under the guidance of Crows and SANFL coaches.
Another key piece of the bid was a new alliance with a northern neighbour. Adelaide, in partnership with AFL Northern Territory, formally submitted a comprehensive joint proposal to the AFL, seeking a women’s licence for the inaugural AFL Women’s Competition.
Two months later, in June, the AFL confirmed Adelaide’s entry, alongside Brisbane, Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, GWS, Melbourne and Western Bulldogs.
Crows Chairman Rob Chapman welcomed the announcement as a landmark moment for the Club and sport in general.
“Today marks the beginning of an exciting new era for everyone in the Crows family and footy fans across the country,” Chapman said. “We have been one of the loudest and most passionate voices in advocating for a national women’s league and have long demonstrated a commitment to gender diversity.
“It is fantastic that girls and young women can now aspire to play for the Crows and realise their dream of a career in football.”
Over the following months the Club signed its first two marquee players – West Australians Chelsea Randall and Kellie Gibson – appointed a coaching panel headed by Bec Goddard and Andrew Hodges and started to recruit talent from South Australia and Northern Territory, with players to be based either in Adelaide or Darwin.
Goddard, the 2015 AFL Football Woman of the Year (honorary), had an impressive professional career and significant coaching, umpiring and playing experience, both in the ACT and South Australia.
Adelaide’s squad build was boosted by the surprise signing of Olympic basketballer Erin Phillips, who was playing for US club Dallas Wings in the WNBA.
The daughter of SA Football Hall of Fame inductee and Port Adelaide champion Greg Phillips, Erin was a talented junior footballer but then chose to pursue a basketball career.
On draft day, October 12, SA teenager Ebony Marinoff was the first of 18 players picked by the Crows.
The Adelaide women squad’s first official pre-season training session was held on November 21, 2016, and the Crows had only two months to prepare for trial games and then their first official match on February 4, 2017.