As the 2019 AFL Women’s season draws to an end, questions have been raised over whether the league has increased in popularity since its establishment in 2017.

Austadiums data reveals 2019 was the slowest season so far, with a steady decrease of 15.97% crowd attendance since 2018. This year’s highest crowd attendance ranks as the lowest on record, with 18,429 attending a Geelong vs Collingwood match, 56% less than last year’s highest attendance.

Despite the the steady decline in AFLW match attendance over the past three years, there are arguments the league is not diminishing. Statistics released in 2018 by show women’s participation rates have been on the rise since its establishment, with 2018 alone increasing by 14.42% in women’s Aussie rules participation nationally.

Kiama Power player and sports journalist Lauren Markham said AFLW is growing.

“With the expansion of the league comes a spread of fans, meaning while some club’s average attendances have dropped, these numbers are made up by the newer clubs,” she said.

“Females now make up close to a third of Australian football participants worldwide.”

There are 2,281 female AFL teams reported nationwide in 2018,  an increase in 35% to 2017.

“You can’t go past the example of our local South Coast AFL ,who had their first women’s league last year and have already expanded into a second league for 2019,” Markham said.

The AFL Women’s Grand Final between the Adelaide Crows and the Carlton Blues will be fought out this Sunday, with one of the largest crowds expected for the season.