Why the Big Names Make AFLW Clubs Move

Molloy said the longer contract is “game-changing” as it offers stability, which is not often offered to women footballers.

“I wanted to sign long-term to show Sydney that I wasn’t in it for the hot minute or for the money as the storyline progressed. [but] I’m here to help build a team that will reach the pinnacle of all, which is prime minister,” Molloy said.

She added that the longer-term deal allows her to build her life in Sydney, knowing she would have security at the club as most players – including Molloy himself in the last seven seasons – aren’t thinking beyond next year could or two.

“Everyone likes stability. We want stability in relationships, in our work, in our jobs, and to go on like we’ve had extensions of a year or two, it’s just led to too much anxiety in playgroups because, especially with players and families or ongoing jobs or Moving, one or two just couldn’t find anyone,” Molloy said.

The system works

Despite fans’ frustration at seeing founding clubs losing players they developed, Saundry noted the system, along with the salary cap, was designed to force players to move.

The AFLW works according to a four-tier system with different tariffs. Each club can have two Tier 1 players (highest paying), six Tier 2 players, six Tier 3 players and 16 Tier 4 players.

Saundry explained that for founding clubs with greater depth of talent, level four and level three players could be placed on an expansion list – giving those players an incentive to move for the pay rise and helping to even out the competition.

“It was made to have things like what happened with Brisbane and what happened with Ash Woodland [who moved from Adelaide to Port Adelaide] and Chloe Molloy, it was designed to make this possible. And it didn’t really work with the quick turnaround in the seasons [last year]but in my head it definitely worked this year.”

However, while Saundry can see that the system is helping to even out the competition, she says true leveling will not be achieved until there is a national draft (the draft is currently spread across the various states).

Compensation for clubs that lost players in the priority signing stage will come in 2024 draft picks to be determined by the league. But for indemnity selection to actually be lucrative, there needs to be a national draft pool, Saundry said.

“I really believe that the national draft system helps compensate and actually balance player and pick trading,” Saundry said.

“We have seen Adelaide and Brisbane players traded in the past and they have been compensated with a selection. But really, in the scheme of things, in the reality of things, it doesn’t really mean anything to them.”

Bates added that the AFL would always take compensatory action and it was needed for the good of the game.

“At the end of the day nobody wants to watch blowout games and nobody wants to play blowout games. They want to start leveling out the competition, so there’s probably going to be some movement with that,” Bates said.

But when Molloy realized equalizing would come with some pain for clubs and fans.

“The game has to grow, and it will suck, and it will hurt, because growth is uncomfortable, [but] The only way to grow is to move talent,” she said.

life outside of football

Players are part-time and the season is only 10 weeks plus finals per year. One of the main reasons players move between cities or states is for life opportunities, including work and experiences.

Having lived their entire lives in the same city, Molloy, Bates and Greta Bodey, who also moved to Hawthorn from Brisbane, said they wanted to move to get out of their comfort zone and experience the personal growth that comes with those challenges comes along.

Melbourne’s football bubble and post-career opportunities were also a big draw for Bates.

Emily Bates 2022 AFLW Best and Fairest Winner.

Emily Bates 2022 AFLW Best and Fairest Winner.Credit:Getty

“Moving to Melbourne has always been on my wish list and something I wanted to do with my life. If you live your whole life in a city, in relation to Brisbane, you don’t get any new experiences, you know, [I] just needed a new environment,” said Bates.

She said Hawthorn offered her the opportunity to work a few days a week in the club’s football department, rotating through roles including football analysis and roster management.

“Let’s say I play another five, six years and then leave with five, six years of experience in a job and then I can start my next career. So that was probably the main decision,” Bates said.

Opportunity to lead a young group

For more experienced players, the opportunity to lead a younger group and help a new team in their early days was also an attraction.

Bodey said joining Hawthorn would allow her to work on her leadership skills and be a part of the Hawks women’s legacy.

“It’s only when I’m with players that young that I have to step up and I think also tell a little bit about what I know because I’ve been competing for a couple of years. I think that’s an exciting aspect of the change,” Bodey said.

“Having the chance to be a part of, I think, leaving a legacy with the Hawks is really exciting and that’s really impacted me.”

Molloy said she was excited to be a part of the Swans’ first win.

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Ryan Sederquist

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