For nearly 150 years, the Sydney Swans have been forging a rich history through the men’s team.
On August 12th, 2021, a new chapter in the club’s history officially began when the Sydney Swans were granted a license for entry in the seventh AFLW season with Sydney Swans Chairman Andrew Pridham declaring it a ‘landmark day for the club.’
From season 2022/23, the Swans will be one of four new teams to enter the AFLW, completing the national 18-team competition.
Sydney Swans Executive General Manager- Product and Consumer, Natalie Fagg, was part of the team that spearheaded the AFLW bid and was thrilled the AFL Commission had recognised the club’s strong submission.
“Our licence into the AFLW competition is wonderful news for all Swans members, fans and our entire red and white community,” she said.
“One of the key points in our submission was the opportunity AFLW provides for our fans to have a year-round connection to the Swans. When the AFL competition concludes in September, our AFLW team will be preparing to take field.
“For our fans, it means more Swans matches and more memorable days at the footy.”
The result of a successful bid came on the back of many years of hard work to have the club in a position to apply for a license after making the difficult decision to not bid for a license in the early years of the competition.
Sydney Swans former Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Ireland said that not applying for a license was one of the ‘toughest calls he has had to make’ in his career but ultimately it came down to the lack of professional facilities to house a Swans women’s side when the original bidding process occurred.
“We currently don’t have any room to fit a women’s team in the facility we have,” Ireland said back in 2017.
“We didn’t find it acceptable to play them on a small, poor suburban ground. When we do it, we want to do it properly!”
Fast forward four years and the club is primed to introduce an AFLW team next year with just under 300 girls in the QBE Sydney Swans Academy program and a brand new, world class facility to house the next generation of female athletes currently being built.
Construction is underway for the new Sydney Swans Headquarters and Community Centre at the Royal Hall of Industries in Moore Park, which will see the men’s, women’s and QBE Sydney Swans Academy programs all under the one roof.
“As we introduce a second elite team, we are committed to a one club approach, providing the best, integrated environment we can for both our men’s and women’s teams,” Sydney Swans Chairman Andrew Pridham said when the project was reignited this year.
Alongside the major development of a high-performance facility, the club has also established and grown the QBE Sydney Swans Youth Girls Academy program , a crucial pathway system for local talent. The program began in 2017 and has grown to have just under 300 athletes from U11 to U19 programs in 2021.
Testimony to the program’s success and another piece to add to the club’s milestones came this year with two QBE Sydney Swans Academy players drafted in the AFLW Draft: U19 Captain Jess Doyle and Georgie Fowler.
Earlier in the year, another slice of history as the Top End Academy U17 and U19 teams played in an Academy series which saw the Swans register an historic win on the road against a highly fancied Geelong outfit. There were also victories against cross-town rivals, the GWS Giants which saw the emergence of future stars.
This series also prompted the alteration of some off-field folklore. As a proud and inclusive club and to reflect the direction the club is going, a small but important change to the club song was implemented.
The second last line of the club song was changed to ‘While Our Loyal Swans are marching, onwards to victory’ – an important change which our QBE Sydney Swans Academy girls’ teams and men’s teams proudly sang following their victories in season 2021.
With the debut of a Sydney Swans AFLW team less than 12 months away, preparations are well underway across the club for the inaugural season.
The club recently made their first official key AFLW appointment with Kate Mahony named the Executive General Manager- AFLW.
Mahony, who joins the club from NSWIS, brings extensive experience as a leader in high performance sport at national and international level and has held numerous leadership roles in women’s sport.
“It is a really unique opportunity to be there from the start and set the foundations for an elite, high performing AFLW program,” Mahony said after her appointment.
“I am passionate about women’s sport and incredibly excited for the challenge of helping build an AFLW program and culture that supports athletes reach their potential and perform at their very best.
“AFLW has been a game changer for women’s sport and there is clearly great excitement building around the Swans inaugural AFLW season. We want to build a successful team that inspires the next generation of female footballers and athletes in New South Wales.”