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AFLW Trade Period: What you need to know

Sarah Black,  May 17, 2017 6:33 PM

MONDAY marks the first day of the sign and trade period for the NAB AFL Women's competition.

The trade period (May 15-26) was delayed by several weeks as the AFL Commission deliberated on whether to expand the eight-club competition in 2018 after the success of the inaugural AFLW season.

Although several clubs – including Geelong and St Kilda – were pushing hard to enter the competition next year, the Commission rightly decided for a year of consolidation, rather than immediate expansion.

A common concern throughout the inaugural season was the average skill level of players across the competition. The top players were clearly far more talented than the rest, leading to an inconsistent standard of play.

Therefore, it makes sense to develop talent in existing teams, rather than spreading it across a greater number of clubs.

We saw the devastating effect injury can have on relatively small lists, with Fremantle, Greater Western Sydney and the Western Bulldogs struggling with serious injuries to key players.

The AFL has increased the list size for 2018 from 25 to 27, with a further three rookie list spots available. Two of the nominated rookies may come from other sports.

However, the three rookies will not be able to play until they are upgraded to the senior list because of an injury to another player.

Clubs will be busy scouting playing fields around the country after the success this year of players from other sports, including Erin Phillips (basketball), Cat Phillips (ultimate frisbee) and Nat Exon (athletics).

The AFLW competition will expand in 2019, with five clubs (St Kilda, Geelong, Richmond, North Melbourne and West Coast) given provisional licences. They will receive priority from the AFL when it considers the next lot of applications.

The competition will expand by at least two (taking it to 10 teams) or even four (12).

Geelong has entered a team in the VFL Women's competition (as has Hawthorn), while St Kilda staged an exhibition match with players made up of AFL Victoria’s Southern Women's Academy squad.

North Melbourne is aligned with VFL Women's team Melbourne University, and arranged a practice match with a combined Uni/Tasmania side against VFL Women's powerhouse Darebin.

The potential new Victorian clubs could play at their training grounds (Simonds Stadium, Moorabbin, Punt Road and Arden Street), but the addition of all four would inevitably stretch the Victorian talent pool too thinly.

Port Adelaide also has a women's side (the Port Adelaide Magpies) which will line up in the Adelaide Footy League competition.

A second club in Western Australia could work, given the state’s depth of talent. This year, Emma King, Chelsea Randall, Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Kellie Gibson starred playing outside their home state and it’s not inconceivable to believe they won’t return home at some point.