Rival coaches Bec Goddard and Natalie Wood have called for more AFLW matches to be played at Marvel Stadium after their expansion sides put on an entertaining contest under the roof.
Wood’s Essendon produced a 26-point win over Hawthorn in the round-one encounter, which was moved from the far smaller ETU Stadium – better known as North Port Oval – because of strong supporter interest.
More than 12,000 fans were treated to a game played at high speed, with some superb foot skills on display in perfect conditions not usually afforded to AFLW players as the Bombers eventually prevailed 7.11 (53) to 4.3 (27).
“We saw both teams put on a really great show tonight, so why not play more games at big stadiums?” Hawks coach Goddard said. “It felt like there were so many more than 12,000 here tonight. That’s a big number but it sounded a lot louder.
“Just give the women the opportunity to play in big stadiums and the fans will come.”
Wood said the facilities at the AFL-owned Marvel Stadium matched the AFLW players’ commitment to improvement as many juggle work and study outside of football.
“The more that we can wrap professionalism around our athletes, the better,” Wood said. “If that means getting on the better grounds that support that professionalism, then I think that’s a good thing.
“If we’re working towards establishing a really professional product then our members and our fans need to be able to come along and consume that and be a part of that and live that with us.
“If that means that we needed to be here [Marvel Stadium] in order to get 12,000 people then I think that’s the right thing.”
Hawthorn midfielder Tilly Lucas-Rodd said running out at Marvel Stadium was a “great experience” for the players.
“There were no conditions like we get out at Box Hill with the rain and the wind, and I think you saw that – the skills were up because there weren’t any other factors,” Lucas-Rodd said.