In a search headed by SRi, three-time Olympian Nicole Livingstone has been appointed the new head of women’s football, and hopes to begin the journey towards the AFLW becoming totally professional.
Livingstone will join the AFL on December 4 and has the responsibility of growing and managing the NAB AFL Women’s competition and female football participation.
Since retiring from her decorated swimming career in 1996, Livingstone has gone on to be a success as a commentator, presenter and sports administrator.
Among a host of roles, she is currently on the board of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and a director of Swimming Australia and will resign from successful roles with the Australian Olympic Committee and VicHealth.
With a lot to get her head around and the AFLW season less than three months away, Livingstone told AFL.com.au she thought the game’s elite competition could one day be fully professional.
“I would hope it does become professional,” she said.
“When we’re comparing to the men’s AFL, it’s been around for over 100 years, and we’ve been around for one year, so let’s dream that anything’s possible and that’s what we want the girls to do.
“I completely understand being a semi-professional athlete where you are completely professional in heart, mind, training and commitment, but the compensation isn’t there yet, so that’s one of the big challenges over the next little while.
“We can dream that we can have the girls one day, fully professional.”
Livingstone said she was an interested onlooker at the 2017 season and was “envious” that she didn’t have the opportunity to play as a youngster.
“I’m excited about being involved in a female sport from a participation point-of-view and a high performance point-of-view that is clearly going places,” she said.
“To have national plans so the girls and their parents know where they’re going and how they get there is really important.”
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan described Livingstone as a “champion in every sense”.
“It is fantastic to get a person of her quality to lead our new national League,” he said.
“Our first season generated a groundswell of support, and I am thrilled that Nicole is going to join the team to turn that energy into a growing, sustainable and successful women’s competition.”