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It’s so much more than a game

Neither of us will forget the day we played our first game in the inaugural women’s footy league: the smell of the freshly cut grass, the sweet sensation of adrenaline pumping, the sound of the crowd reverberating throughout the stadium and the palpable excitement of our teammates.

On Saturday we will meet as rivals on the field, battling it out to make history as the first ever premiership victor.

Although there can only be one winner on the day, we are united by our love of the game — a love that has kept them playing despite the sexist name-calling, the lack of opportunities to commit at the highest level and an absence of female role models.

Our passion to change the face of our cherished game has led us to become ambassadors for national youth campaign, The Line. A campaign that encourages young people to reject violence and challenge restrictive gender stereotypes.

We both understand how important language is in enforcing stereotypes and influencing attitudes and behaviours.

Growing up we were both told we couldn’t do certain things because of our gender. Things like ‘you’re not strong enough to lift that’, ‘AFL is for men’, and ‘shouldn’t you be doing something more ladylike?’

Although we weren’t deterred, it’s tough to overcome these boxes that society puts you in. These harmful stereotypes have the potential to prevent strong and capable young girls from exploring and pursuing their true interests, talents and passions.

In sport, society pigeonholes girls into playing netball or softball through telling us contact sport is ‘too masculine’ and that it’s ‘unattractive’ for us to play it.

If women can’t see themselves represented at all levels of the game, who do they look up to?  It’s cliché, but it’s true — it’s hard to be what you can’t see.

It’s sad that we’re in 2017 and we still have to justify to people why we play football and want to continue playing it, and why it’s normal for girls to do so.

Through our passion to play this game and our ambassador roles with The Line, we have been given a platform to showcase that women can, should, and will do anything they want to do.

The women’s league provides young girls with more than 200 women to look up to and empowers more voices to influence change like never before — it’s only going to get better from here.

The next generation of budding young female players can now start their AFL journey with fewer roadblocks and we feel privileged to have helped pave the way.

Our part is small but significant. We, along with our teammates and the rest of our AFLW peers, now share a stake in history as players in the first ever-professional women’s footy league.

So come Saturday, judge us on our actions, skills, competencies and passion for our game. That’s it.

And although there can only be one winner on the day — we’ll both be celebrating the transformative inaugural season. Not only as a win for women in sport but as another step towards bridging the gender divide.

It’s so much more than a game.

Sabrina Frederick-Traub plays for the Brisbane Lions and Chelsea Randall plays for the Adelaide Crows. They will be facing off against each other in the first ever AFLW final this Saturday at Metricon Stadium at 1:00pm EST.