Bailey: Women's footy has a big future
WESTERN Bulldogs defender Bailey Hunt believes the sky is the limit for AFL women's footy. The former Montmorency premiership star, who was one of the first two players nominated for the Rising Star Award in the AFL Women's inaugural season, is confident women's footy will continue to evolve, with further improvements in professionalism and skill levels. The 20-year-old (pictured in blue below with Mont senior women's players) pointed out that men's and women's football is "different'' and should not be compared.
"We are making our own game,'' she says. "In 20 years' time when girls have the same pathways as boys, the skills will be there. Men have come from so many pathways. Some people have an opinion that women aren't skilled enough, but that is because they were never given the opportunity to develop their skills from an early age. Females are only getting that opportunity now.
Super nice Bulldogs
"I see a big future. The competition (the AFLW) will grow and become the same length as the men's.''
She describes the current system where women play with AFL teams for the AFL Women's competition before returning to other (VFL women's competition) clubs for the rest of the year as a "weird dynamic''.
Hunt, who played for Melbourne University before being drafted the Western Bulldogs late last year, is hoping she can continue to represent the Dogs next season.
"Hopefully, I will line up at the Dogs next year,'' she says. "I aim to be re-signing in May. I would not want to be at any other club. Everyone is super nice at the Bulldogs.''
Hunt says she was pleasantly surprised by the positive media and public reaction to the inaugural AFLW season.
"It was an unknown (what the reaction would be),'' she says. "We knew there would be some interest, but if anything I was expecting negative comments and reaction because some people would think that AFL is a men's sport. I watched the first game (between Collingwood and Carlton) and wondered what sort of crowd we would get given the big numbers at the first game. We also got big numbers at the Whitten Oval.'' Hunt says that while she was delighted to have been nominated as a rising star after a strong defensive performance in the round one win against Fremantle, it came as a "shock''. "As I was one of the first two (women) to be nominated, it is really special.''
Hunt says she first started kicking footy around with her dad, Paddy, when she was "seven or eight years of age", but did not play until she was 15. She started playing for Mont youth girls in 2013 and captained Mont's under 18 side in 2014, winning that side's best and fairest award. In the same year she was a member of the club's senior women's premiership side. The following season she was part of the side that finished runner-up. In 2016 she represented Melbourne University in the VFL, with the side finishing runner-up to Darebin. In the just completed AFL season Hunt pulled on the Dogs' colours in all seven games.
WOMENS30th April: South Morang (Away)