SYDNEY is raring to submit its first application for a licence for the NAB AFLW competition.
With the deadline of this coming Friday fast approaching, the Swans will then present their bid during the following week.
Womens.afl spoke to Sydney's executive general manager of consumer and product Natalie Fagg to preview the Swans' bid.
This marks the first time Sydney has applied for a licence, opting out of previous rounds in 2016 and 2017 (which resulted in a two-stage roll-out over 2019 and 2020).
"When the original team was set up, we made a really difficult decision not to bid for a licence, which was really related to our inability to deliver a professional facility where athletes could thrive," Fagg said.
"Since that date, we've been working pretty hard on addressing that facility challenge, but in addition, we've established our youth girls academy, which has just under 300 girls in it."
Why they're confident
The Swans have already launched a wide-spread social media campaign, involving daughters of past players (including Brett Kirk's 14-year-old twins Tallulah and Memphys, who are members of the club academy) and getting fans to register their support.
"Our Sydney Swans brand and our football club – people know what we stand for, they know what we're about. We're going to be really focused on our elite talent and female pathway through our academy," Fagg said.
"We're really keen to make sure Sydney-based female athletes have somewhere to ply their trade and we're really keen to connect our academy program to our AFLW team. We see that dating back to 2018 when we established the academy and we consider that a key cornerstone of our entry."
Background in women's footy
Sydney has built its youth girls academy from the ground up, starting with younger age groups and steadily extending it as the original intake got older.
This year marked the first time the Swans academy played matches for the first time, with the under-17 and under-19 squads taking on Greater Western Sydney's academy sides.
NAB AFLW Combine invitees Jess Doyle and Maddy Hendrie are part of the Swans' senior academy side.
The time invested in talent development is a major part of Sydney's application, but they're also keen to address the issues the club has had around facilities in a crowded area.
The club had big plans around a new centre at the Royal Hall of Industries in Moore Park, but put plans on hold in April last year amidst the beginning of the pandemic.
"It has been our biggest hurdle to our AFLW ambitions, to have those elite facilities that we want to have," Fagg said.
"We've been working really hard in that regard in the last couple of years in particular, we're really hopeful of re-enlivening the project at the RHI in Moore Park, and we hope to be able to do that in advance of a potential entry in season seven."
Why they should be included
Women's football is steadily growing in Sydney, and while it'll be a few years before fruition, the pipeline is in place.
In 2016, there were 17 teams in the AFL Sydney competition, split across two divisions.
In 2021, that number has risen to 46 across five sections.
"The 300 young women who are in our academy now are the peak of that, but what we know also is grassroots growth has been incredibly strong across New South Wales.
"Anecdotally, the Maroubra Saints have actually got more girls enrolled than they can fit in their teams at the moment, which is extraordinary.
"We can see the growth of junior girls footy but also senior women's footy, AFL Sydney, it's been extraordinary to watch that over the last few years as a result of the establishment of AFLW.
"We think our fans are really ready for us to have an AFLW team, and almost impatient for that."