Jacqui Felgate has reported on AFLW for years. Here’s how she's seeing footy change for young girls.

NAB AFL Auskick
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“Girls don’t play footy." 

It’s the statement that popular journalist and presenter Jacqui Felgate remembers hearing as a child of the ‘80s; as flustered primary teachers ran across the schoolyard and snatched the footy from the girls, shooing them off the oval. 

Ironically, a large part of Jacqui’s career as a sports reporter and AFLW boundary rider, was firmly on the oval. 

“Some of my favourite games that I’ve covered were going to the Whitten Oval, and seeing little kids – little girls – holding up signs about their favourite [women] players. And then just seeing women who are so wrapped to be playing footy at this level, and are so happy to be there.” 

It’s been seven years since the introduction of AFLW, and Jacqui says the growth of skill level in that time has been “amazing”.

“In the first season, many of those women had been poached from other sports, and were learning to play football,” says Jacqui, dismissing those tempted to compare AFL to AFLW. 

“You’re not comparing apples with apples… Only just now are women coming through the system that have grown up with Auskick, and that have played football their entire lives.”  

NAB AFL Auskick is an introductory program that invites kids aged five to 12 into the world of AFL for kids. In weekly sessions, they also build football skills and playing in a safe and fun setting; think, small groups, heaps of games and parent involvement. It’s inclusive too, with options for Girls-only Auskick programs and All-Abilities Auskick centres also on offer.  


Adding to the excitement, little "Auskickers" may have the coveted opportunity to feature at half-time of AFL and AFLW matches throughout the season.

Jacqui’s youngest daughter Georgia took up Auskick at just five-years-old, and has been playing for a year already.

“She has a great time! It’s literally just going nuts with your mates – and getting very muddy!” she says, adding, “And they sleep very well that night!”


“Georgia is just as crazy and driven as any of the little boys that play there. And I think that's what I love to see. It really is inclusive.”

It’s not entirely surprising to see Georgia’s passion for the game; it’s basically in her blood. 

Aside from being the first woman to co-host the Brownlow Medal, Jacqui is a broadcaster on 3AW Radio Football. But her footy love affair began as a child on the benches at Kardinia Park, with every weekend spent cheering on her beloved Geelong Cats. And with a great-grandmother who used to knit the players’ jumpers, “I really didn’t have a choice,” she jokes. 


From child to parent, now Jacqui finds yet another level of footy appreciation – on the sidelines of Georgia’s Auskick matches. Each Saturday it’s the same parents turning up and lending a hand, says Jacqui of the camaraderie within the Auskick community of her local bayside Melbourne. 

“Whether it's setting up the little activities that they do before they play their match, or you might give a hand at coaching and help with the drills… I really enjoy that.

“And I love seeing the enjoyment that the kids get out of it, just like any sport. It's great to have the kids off the iPads and running about.”

In the time that Georgia has been playing Auskick, Jacqui notes the lessons she has learned which have carried off-ground too; building relationships, learning to share and improved confidence.

“There’s a sense of teamwork and community – and having fun.”

“There is a joy you get from in watching your kid enjoying sport and having a smile on their face – and having a pathway as well, if she wants to keep playing.”


Jacqui recalls a time before AFLW, when girls would reach a certain age, and had no option to play on. 

“But that’s not the case now, and I think that’s a really wonderful thing.

“It gives girls the opportunity to think – just like anything else in life – if I want to do this, there's not any barrier to me doing this anymore.”

Jacqui observes a pressure that is put on sportswomen – “particularly in AFL” – which is “often very different” to the pressure that’s put upon men.

Unlike their AFL counterparts, most AFLW players are also holding down other jobs – and then there are – others who persist with the view that girls or women don’t belong on the football oval. 

“It drives you half-mad, doesn’t it?” poses a bereft Jacqui, sharing a hope that as time passes so will the negative attitudes. 

“You can’t be, what you can’t see… I watch Georgia play Auskick and she loves it, and the fun that she has; and the fun that you see these [AFLW] women still have in the way that they play the game.”

“I look at them, and think, gosh, I wish I could’ve played footy like that.”

Register your kids for the 2023 NAB AFL Auskick season. It's an inclusive environment where everyone aged 5 to 12 at any skill level can play. 

Feature Image: Instagram/@jacquifelgate/Twitter/@Jacquifelgate

NAB AFL Auskick
NAB AFL Auskick is the best way to introduce kids to the great game of Aussie Rules Football! It’s all about fun, getting hands on the ball and constantly being involved in exciting activities. No AFL experience? No worries! Auskick offers an inclusive environment for everyone aged 5 – 12 at any skill level to play. Join kids playing NAB AFL Auskick at 4,000+ centres across Australia - visit today!