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One third of Australian women back an AFL club
New findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal that more than a third (33.8%) of Australian women aged 14 and over (3,352,000 women) support an AFL club and that nine of the league’s 18 teams have actually seen their number of female supporters rise over the past few years.
Fremantle Dockers experienced the largest growth by far, gaining an additional 70,000 female supporters since 2012, which puts it in sixth position overall for number of female fans.
While the Roy Morgan figures show that numbers of women who support an AFL team slipped slightly from 35.6% to 33.8% between 2012 and 2015, as did the proportion who watch matches on TV (down fractionally from 34.0% to 33.4%), overall there were modest increases in paid-up club membership among Australian women (from 3.1% to 3.6%) during the same period, as well as in attendance of AFL matches (from 9.8% to 10%).
With the prospect of a women’s football league in 2017, and a series of women’s exhibition matches scheduled for the current AFL season, in releasing the figures Roy Morgan Research stated “it seems an opportune time to investigate not only how Australian women’s involvement in the AFL is tracking, but whether many women actually play Aussie Rules football themselves.”
AFL club supporters 2015 – women
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January–December 2015 (n=3,076).
As the country’s most widely supported club, Roy Morgan Research say “it is no surprise that Sydney Swans have the most female supporters (451,000) - and rising, with an additional 31,000 women joining their fan base since 2012.
“Female support also grew for last year’s Grand Final winners the Hawks (up by 34,000 women since 2012), as well as for Port Adelaide Power (up by 28,000) and the Western Bulldogs (up by 14,000). In contrast, it plummeted for the Brisbane Lions (down by 96,000 women), St Kilda Saints (who lost some 41,000 female followers) and West Coast Eagles (down by 39,000).
“Meanwhile three teams boast the distinction of having more female supporters than male: Collingwood, Geelong and Western Bulldogs.”
In terms of participation, Roy Morgan Research state that “the proportion of Aussie women 14+ who play footy has always been low (and that), participation has decreased marginally since 2012 from 1.3% to 1%.”
Roy Morgan Research add “to put (that figure) in perspective, fewer women play Australian Rules than niche sports such as field hockey, archery, gymnastics, martial arts or ice/figure skating.
“There has, however, been an incremental increase in participation among girls aged six to 13 years, with 7.5% now playing Aussie Rules at school, up from 6.5% in 2012 - Outside school hours, participation remains steady at 3%. Over the same period, the proportion of girls who watch the AFL on TV has also risen, from 26.6% to 29.4%.”
Commenting on the findings Roy Morgan Research Chief Executive Michele Levine stated “as any AFL fan would know, the 2016 season has kicked off, with the next women’s match scheduled for this coming Saturday.
“In anticipation of a national women’s league being launched next year, we delved into our database to measure women’s involvement in footy – both as supporters and players.
“Although the proportion of Aussie women who support an AFL team has slipped, this is consistent with the national trend rather than being gender-specific - it must be said, however, that the decline among men who support an AFL team was softer, down from 44.9% to 44%. Likewise, participation in Australian Rules is fairly static among both men and women, although obviously considerably less widespread among women.
“Curiously, while some teams have gained supporters of both genders over the last few years - with the increasingly successful Fremantle Dockers gaining an extra 90,000 male followers in addition to their growing female fan-base, others have gained female and lost male supporters or vice versa, while others yet have lost supporters all round.
“Nobody would be particularly surprised that such a small proportion of women play Aussie Rules themselves, as this has always been the case, but it bodes well for the future of the women’s league that participation by and interest among younger girls is growing.”
Roy Morgan Research’s figure for the 2015 Australian population (aged 14 and older) is 19,550,000 with 9,909,000 women aged 14+.
4th January 2016 - AFL CLAIMS MASSIVE GROWTH IN PARTICIPATION IN 2015
27th August 2015 - AFL ANNOUNCES RECORD CLUB MEMBERSHIP FIGURES
10th August 2015 - VICHEALTH COMMITS $1.8 MILLION TO GET 25,000 WOMEN ACTIVE
3rd March 2015 - RESEARCH REVEALS THE SOCIAL VALUE OF A FOOTBALL CLUB
8th August 2014 - GWS GIANTS BACK WESTERN SYDNEY’S FIRST WOMEN’S AFL TEAM
8th October 2012 - GEMBA TO COMPLETE MOORABBIN OVAL FOOTBALL HUB FEASIBILITY STUDY
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