The margin was only five points in the end, but for the Swans AFLW side their first victory after going winless all last season was a breakthrough moment to kick off the new season.
Players celebrated like they had “won the grand final” and also acknowledged the ‘Matildas effect’, which has seen increased interest in their sport.
Starting their second season with a derby clash at North Sydney Oval against the GWS Giants, the Swans ran out winners 7.9 (51) to 7.4 (46).
Vital to their success was defender Brenna Tarrant, who read the movements in the Giants forwards effectively enough to intercept key kicks towards goal.
“It probably hasn’t sunk in properly.” Brenna said. “I know we definitely reacted like we won the grand final, and I could say it felt a lot like that.
“But yeah, you’re one of 18 teams to have their first win, when you’re a part of that, it’s a really surreal feeling.
A lot of the general public seem to really support it now, maybe that’s a bit of the Matilda’s effect, but we’re definitely trying to roll with it.
“You’re obviously now a part of history, again you don’t want it to get the best of you because there’s still another nine games to go and we’re really dialled in to Geelong now. But to know history was made last weekend and you’re a part of it is something that’s hard to ignore.”
The round one match highlighted the support for the women’s side from their fans, with 5,500 in attendance, and from within the Swans club itself, with the men’s side amongst the crowd cheering on their co-team.
With the AFLW season commencing shortly after the end of a historic World Cup for Australia, it seemed the Matildas hype had also caught on.
“I definitely have seen growth within the league and our own club. I think obviously the way the AFLW is viewed by the wider community seems to be so much more positive,” Brenna said.
“I think a lot of the general public seem to really support it now, maybe that’s a bit of the Matilda’s effect, but we’re definitely trying to roll with it.
“I guess within the club, we have such a really good batch of supporters that get behind us, they’re super positive they want to ride every wave for both the men and the women. Even the men’s support I think just all kind of shows how good our support is for the club in general.”
The FIFA Women’s World Cup was an unprecedented success for women’s soccer and Australian sport in general, attracting higher TV ratings views than the last AFL men’s grand final and the Rugby League State of Origin.
That spotlight on the Matildas combined with the victory of the Australian Diamonds Netball team in the World Cup, has lifted interest in womens sport across the country.
The Swans next go up against the Geelong Cats, who finished 5th on the ladder last year and trumped the Swans by 75 points in their last meeting in 2022.
But with confidence from the first week win, and growing interest for what these women have to offer, Swans players and fans can be hopeful of the season to come.
Main image screenshot courtesy Fox.