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Footy’s back: Your questions answered ahead the 2022 AFLW season

Footy is back, with AFLW kicking off earlier than usual and in the context of yet another COVID-19 outbreak.

In this explainer, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about the season.

When does it start?

The sixth season of AFLW kicks off on Friday, January 7, 2022.

It was originally planned to take place in December 2021, but was pushed back to January on account of ongoing uncertainty over COVID-19 (at that time the Delta variant), including border restrictions.

Moving forward, head of women’s football Nicole Livingstone has committed to December as the ideal time to start the AFLW season.

At the

Traditional rivals Collingwood and Carlton also generally play in the opener (with Geelong and Richmond respectively filling in for one of those teams in their inaugural seasons).

Frankston Park is an unusual choice given the ground’s capacity of approximately 8,000, and around 1,000 seats.

This compares to Princes Park’s capacity of approximately 24,500, which was reached in season one.

With the exception of the 2021 season, which had crowd capacity limits due to COVID-19, the season opener has never drawn fewer than 15,000 spectators.

The game will also controversially be contested by St Kilda and Richmond — two teams who did not make finals in 2021.

What other round one match-ups are there to look forward to?

The opening round features a series of highly-anticipated contests including:

Fremantle West Coast AFLW captains' day
Fremantle and West Coast will face off in a round one Western derby.(Getty Images: Paul Kane)

Which teams are in the competition?

You may have heard the announcement that

On Tuesday’s AFLW “captains’ day”, Saints captain Hannah Priest said the playing group was no closer to discovering whether the two-time best-and-fairest winner would play this AFLW season.

In late November 2021, Patrikios revealed she was not vaccinated and had not yet made up her mind about whether to get vaccinated.

As it stands, Patrikios is named on the Saints’ active list, but it would seem unlikely that she will be vaccinated in time for the season start.

Deni Varnhagen, meanwhile, made waves last year by not only refusing to get vaccinated, but becoming one of four South Australian workers to challenge the state government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in court.

Varnhagen works as a nurse and was moved to her club’s inactive list last year.

Is anyone in doubt for round one because of COVID-19?

The short answer is yes — with the most high-profile being Kangaroos captain Emma Kearney, who Sarah Black from the AFL Women’s website revealed had returned two positive rapid antigen tests.

Emma Kearney attempts to break a tackle by Kara AntonioEmma Kearney attempts to break a tackle by Kara Antonio
Emma Kearney has not missed a game of AFLW, but is in doubt for round one because of positive rapid antigen tests.(Getty Images: Robert Cianflone)

The best and fairest winner has not missed a match in five seasons of AFLW and is currently awaiting her PCR result (as of Wednesday).

The Gold Coast Suns, meanwhile, has five players still in isolation, but Black reports they should be available for selection.

How can I attend matches?

Tickets can be purchased by following the link on the AFL website to the fixture and then clicking the “Buy Tickets” button below the specific match you are interested in attending.

As with last season, tickets must be purchased in advance, with no tickets available for sale at the ground on the day (unless purchased via the relevant ticket agency app or website).

How much do tickets cost?

Tickets cost $10 for adults or concession card holders, while juniors under 18 can attend for free.

A Crows fan waving his flag during the 2021 AFLW Grand Final match between the Adelaide Crows and the Brisbane Lions A Crows fan waving his flag during the 2021 AFLW Grand Final match between the Adelaide Crows and the Brisbane Lions
As with last season, fans won’t be able to purchase tickets at the ground on game day.(Getty: Michael Willson)

However, juniors must also obtain their free ticket prior to the match.

Some clubs allow AFLW members to attend home games for free, but tickets must again be purchased in advance.

How can I watch it?

Every AFL Women’s game is available to be streamed live on the AFL Women’s, AFL Live and Telstra TV AFLW apps. You can also stream games via the and websites.

AFLW matches are broadcast live on the Seven Network, Fox Footy and Kayo.

How can I listen to it?

ABC Grandstand will be broadcasting AFLW matches, while ABC also just launched The W podcast with Sam Lane and Sharni Norder.

OK, but who will win?

I can’t answer that, but the 14 club captains were polled on their thoughts and most answered Melbourne (7), followed by Brisbane (5) with Collingwood and Adelaide receiving a vote each.