Nicole Hayes and Alicia Sometimes are dyed-in-the-wool footy fans and have a unique perspective on a sport that was once dominated by men. They explored this perspective as co-editors of From the Outer, an anthology of personal stories about Aussie Rules football that wrestled the conversation away from the usual suspects and put it firmly in the hands of those who are female, indigenous, gay, disabled or otherwise typically relegated to the ‘outer’. They sparked a fascinating conversation, so we invited them to have another one with us about the past year in AFL now that Grand Final Week is over.
How would each of you sum up the last year in Aussie Rules using 10 words or less?
Nicole: Tumultuous and revolutionary – the game and conversation has changed forever.
Alicia: The Year of Kicking Passionately.
What were the AFL highlights of 2016 for you?
Nicole: The decision to bring forward the women’s competition from 2020 to 2017 was a brilliant surprise, and helped boost the growing excitement around women’s footy. It also seemed to re-energise the broader community’s engagement with the game – which is great for all concerned! On a personal note, this year was the inaugural year of our ‘Outer Sanctum’ podcast – a direct offshoot of our collaboration on From the Outer.
Alicia: Moana Hope flying high for a mark. Sue Alberti hugging players at the end of the final women’s exhibition match. The rise of the Bulldogs. And, like Nicole, hanging out with five other incredibly smart and dedicated football fans to create our ‘Outer Sanctum’ podcast. Talking and writing about football is always a highlight.
What about the lowlights?
Nicole: The lowlight was definitely Eddie McGuire’s thoughtless comments about Caroline Wilson during the MND Big Freeze fundraising event; a lowlight made worse by his – and other commentators – delayed and unsatisfactory response to the public outrage. It was a huge few weeks podcasting for the ‘Outer Sanctum’, and while it raised important issues, it wasn’t the most pleasant thing to discuss.
Alicia: Any sexism or racism we witnessed in the sport.
What’s next in the footy world for women and others on the ‘outer’?
Nicole: The pay parity issue is a big one – across all sports, and across society. In my opinion, the conversation about pay increases for women in the AFL has barely started, and given the enormous response and support across the country for the inaugural women’s league, it’s one that I expect to ramp up considerably in the coming months and years.
Alicia: Pay parity is crucial. Respect is critical. The league will expand and strengthen from there, and we just can’t wait to see that happen.
Nicole and Alicia are currently writing a new book called Footy Girls Guide to the Stars of 2017 which will be published by Black Inc in February 2017. Look out for another interview with Nicole and Alicia in the coming months to discuss the first-ever season of AFL Women's – and tell us what you think of their chat on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!