The AFL is in a rush to be ‘inclusive’ and to be more representative of society. For so long Australian rules has been exemplary of the archetypal Aussie macho male. Tough, arrogant, abusive, crass. As Mike Sheahan said in his interview with the sport’s best investigative journalist, Caroline Wilson, “footy is a man’s game, everyone knows that”. Well, not everyone knows that and nor is it the truth: women play it, write it, administer it, watch it. Richmond Football Club’s US-born CEO, Peggy O’Neal not only bucks the trend of the typical AFL club administrator through her gender and accent, but also through the very measured, structured criticism of the way the AFL is handling the establishment of a women’s AFL. Slowly and probably reluctantly for some, the game is becoming more open.
So much footy talk is dominated by men. So much talk of sport is dominated by men. As David Byrne sang ironically in ‘Women vs Men’, “we’re into sports; they’re into flowers”. I have just looked at recent posts on Reading Sideways and seen, yup, this blog too is mainly written by the male of the species writing about the activities of the male of the species. Anna, my sister-in-law, sent me a link a few weeks ago to the Outer Sanctum (OS) podcast – as she knows ‘I am into sports’ – and one of her friends is a part of the OS team. The OS podcast has been promoted through various Twitter accounts and seems to be doing well for itself: episodes are updated weekly and guests are important players in the footy scene. OS also emphasises ‘Australian rules’ – something far richer than the blockbusting AFL (a league, not a sport). OS podcasts feature discussions on the varying ways us fans relate to footy: whether it be as participants, volunteers, supporters of a highly successful club, or professionals at a club.
From their website: The Outer Sanctum Podcast is a place for football stories and passionate footy voices we don’t usually get to hear. Brought to you by women who watch the Brownlow for the votes, not the red carpet. Join the melee of weekly football observations and hear interviews with contributors to Australian Rules who share their unique experience and points of view as we ask them “How is your relationship with Australian Rules Football going?” We are dropping the balls on conventional footy chat. The Outer Sanctum team consists of six football fans, brought together by their love of the game. The private messages of the group have recently been published in From the Outer (Black Inc, 2016).
Here is Episode #2, featuring an interview with Angie Green: “Angie is working to address the inequality that she perceives in Australian sport. Having been exposed to elite sporting culture from an early age Angie saw that members of the LGBTIQ community, including her brother Brent, were disproportionately under-represented.”