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Australian Rules-'Defining day'-full AFLW expansion confirmed for 2022-23

All Australian Football League (AFL) clubs will have a team in AFLW, the women's top flight of Australian Rules football, for the start of the 2022-23 season after the league awarded licences to Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney Swans on Thursday.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed the AFLW will expand to an 18-team competition by the end of 2022, describing the move as a "defining day" in the history of Australian football.

The professional women's competition was set up with eight teams in 2017 and expanded to 14 in 2020 to tap into growing interest.

"To have 18 AFLW clubs is to send a message to every female playing footy that they can play for any one of our 18 teams," Australian media quoted McLachlan as saying.

"Simply, the competition is now whole. Today is a pretty defining day, I think, in the history of Australian football."

Port Adelaide and Sydney Swans had not previously applied for a licence, while Essendon and Hawthorn first submitted applications ahead of the 2019 intake.

The upcoming 2021-22 AFLW season will remain a 14-team competition, with the new sides being given 16 months to prepare for their debut.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: Reuters

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