Australian football gets its first women's league in historic move

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It's a great day for Australian sport.

In news that makes a play for equality on the sporting field, women will now be able to play in the Australian Football League (AFL) at the highest level in Australia. On Wednesday, the AFL announced it would be launching a women's league across the country.

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"Our game is on the cusp of changing forever and changing for the better," AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick told the media. "The establishment of a national women's league will provide a platform to inspire young girls to reach for the stars and provide another avenue for fans of Australian football to enjoy. Our game will never be the same."

Up until this point, girls could only play AFL until they reached 18 years of age with their local clubs. Then it was time to move over for the boys. Finally putting things right, the AFL said Wednesday it had given licenses to eight out of 12 established teams to participate in the inaugural season.

The teams that fought the hardest for women squads are: Adelaide, Brisbane Lions, Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs. Hawthorn, Essendon, Sydney and Gold Coast chose not to bid for a women's team.

The new competition is set to kick off in February 2017 with the rules and format yet to be established. One thing we do know is that the women will wear the same jerseys and play on the same fields as the men. No longer will they be relegated to local sports grounds.

Outside soccer, it's the first football code in Australia that has given women the right to compete alongside men. And, as Fitzpatrick noted, "this is just the beginning."

It's been a long time coming, with the inaugural AFL season kicking off in 1897 and the first organised women's match played in 1915. Finally, women can kick the goals they deserve.

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