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AFL advised to plan for long term interest in women’s competition
The AFL needs to make sure its new AFL Women's competition can hold onto fans when the "novelty" starts to dwindle after the first few seasons, according to a speaker at the Championing Women in Sport conference in Melbourne.
Speaking today at the conference at the MCG, Ted Johnson, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy and Development Officer at the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx, shared his experience from the creation of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) in the USA in the late 1990s.
Referring to the interest shown in the new AFL Women's competition, Johnson advised that it will be important to identify fans early and to understand what would keep them coming back, stating “those first couple of years celebrate it, enjoy it, but be prepared for year three as interest may begin to drop off.
"Who are the fans who are there as a novelty to check it out, versus who are the fans who are really there because they believe in it."
The Minnesota Lynx have won three WNBA championships in the past six years and believe the key to connecting with female fans is to market the game differently.
Johnson said his experience was that the female audience wanted a deeper connection with their team with a focus on more than just results and that simply re-packaging the men's game was not the answer.
He added “the WNBA Is not about high-flying dunks and individual achievement - it's about a team concept, it's more of a ‘we’, than ‘me’.
"(Women) want to understand that the team is connected to a larger mission of building a league for women (and to know) that we are acknowledging and inspiring women."
The first season of the AFL women's competition will consist of seven matches played in February and March.
Organised by the Sports Research Group, which also presents the annual Sports Fan Summit, Championing Women in Sport showcased how women are impacting sport business.
Image: Championing Women in Sport speakers (from left) Dr Clare Hanlon, Associate Professor in Sport Management at Victoria University; Australian Womensport and Recreation Association (AWRA) President Carol Fox; Lander & Rogers Head of Sports Group Amelia Lynch and consultant Cherry Birch.
14th November 2015 - SIREN READY TO SOUND ON VICTORIAN WOMEN’S FOOTBALL LEAGUE IN 2017
16th September 2016 - AFL WOMEN’S ANNOUNCED AS NAME FOR NEW WOMEN’S COMPETITION
1st September 2016 - NEW CONFERENCE CHAMPIONING WOMEN IN SPORT
1st September 2016 - AMELIA LYNCH APPOINTED TO HEAD LANDER AND ROGERS’ SPORTS BUSINESS GROUP
29th April 2016 - AFL FORMS WOMEN’S ADVISORY GROUP
1st April 2016 - ONE THIRD OF AUSTRALIAN WOMEN BACK AN AFL CLUB
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