2020 target for national women s competition
State women’s football ambassador Chelsea Randall has dreams of an elite female competition by the end of the decade. Picture: Nic Ellis/WA News

The dream of a women's AFL competition by 2020 is alive and well given the rapid growth of the game over the past few years, according to newly-appointed WA female football ambassador Chelsea Randall.

Female football was cast into the spotlight last year when Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs took part in a women's draft and drew more than 7000 people to the MCG for the first AFL-sanctioned women's game.

The fixture was lauded as a huge success by AFL power-brokers and will be repeated in round 15 this season.

Randall, who played for Melbourne and was among the best afield, said interest in female football had spiked dramatically.

"I think it just opened the door to people who had never seen women's football," she said.

"Just to showcase our talent and what we have to offer showed how far we've come."

Randall said the aim over the next six years was to take that momentum and turn it into a truly national competition.

"Our vision is that by the year 2020 we're hoping to have our own women's AFL competition," she said.

"In terms of funding it's still got a way to go, but it's been amazing how far it's come.

"Men's footy has been around 150-odd years or more, women's footy has only been around for about 50 years or less."

Participation in women's football grew by 24 per cent last year, with 169,292 women and girls involved in competitions from Auskick up.

The figures in WA are even more impressive, with participation numbers rising from 4650 in 2012 to 18,831 in 2013.

Of the players registered in WA, Randall is arguably the best.

As well as starring in last year's showcase game, the Swan Districts player also has three All-Australian selections, two WA Women's Football League best and fairests and the State captaincy to her name. There are those who suggest Randall could more than hold her own against many of the men running around in the State leagues at the moment, but she says in order to take women's football forward the goals had to remain realistic.

"If you ask any girl, playing in the AFL is the dream because we haven't seen a women's AFL competition," she said.

"But in all honesty we're not strong enough, so what we want as females is our own AFL competition where you still find the big speccies, the hard hits.

"We don't have the longest kicks like the boys sending down 70-metre torpedoes.

"Those things are a bit different, but the game itself is still amazing and phenomenal to watch."

The West Australian

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