Steve Price's 'infuriating' AFLW take rubbished by Nicola Barr

Steve Price and GWS Giants player Nicola Barr are pictured side by side.
Steve Price's verdict on the AFLW has been rubbished by GWS Giants player Nicola Barr, who says it's obvious the league will take time to continue on the path of improvement. Pictures: Getty Images

The AFLW's inaugural top draft pick, Nicola Barr, says it is 'infuriating' that the league continues to face criticism from the likes of Steve Price, when it seem obvious they have no interest in the game.

Price criticised the AFLW in a column for the Herald Sun last week, in which he ridiculed the standard of play after this season's expansion to a full 18 team competition.

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The column was received poorly among fans of the women's game, culminating in a tense exchange on Channel 10 program The Project when Price was challenged on his views by hosts Waleed Aly and Peter Helliar.

In the column, Price bemoaned the number of games that had seen teams unable to score a goal, arguing high school football was a better spectacle and expressing his confusion at the AFL's massive investment in developing and promoting the AFLW.

“In many sports, elite women’s competition is every bit as exciting to watch as any men’s equivalent," Price wrote.

“But AFLW is not elite sport and the female version of the Australian game of football is substandard. It is not deserving of the attention and funding it gets.”

While there was also some support for Price's views, Barr, who was chosen by the GWS Giants with the first ever AFLW draft pick, said it was 'shattering' that he was continuing his attacks on the sport.

Barr acknowledged the expansion this season had led to an array of lopsided results, but argued there was no way for the league to go but up.

“It’s shattering and disappointing, it’s just infuriating is probably the right word to read articles like that,” Barr told The Only Sports Show podcast.

“I’m in the competition, I know the competition is quite uneven at the moment.

“But the only way for us to get better, to grow as footballers and continue and learn to put on a really good performance is to invest in the game.

“The AFL knows that the only way for us to get better is to continue growing the game and that is by putting potentially more games on, increasing our pay, increasing the number of professional teams.”

Nicola Barr, pictured here at the AFLW Awards in 2021.
Nicola Barr (second from right) at the AFLW Awards in 2021. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

GWS Giants star Nicola Barr defends AFLW after Steve Price comments

Barr went on to say she had no doubt future generations would vastly outperform their predecessors as the game evolved and female players got more opportunities to focus on football as a career in the same way male players can.

She cited women's cricket in Australia as an example of the success for the AFLW and its players to follow.

“And we can see the flow on effect of all of this and what it’s having on younger generations is massive,” she added.

“There are so many young girls playing AFLW now that weren’t before and that’s because they can see that there is a pathway for them and there’s a level for them to play at in professional teams.

“We can see that flow on effect and the development of AFLW is going to take a long time … we’ve seen it with women’s cricket and the level that they’re playing at now because of the investment that’s been put in.

“The AFLW is going to get better and better every year. The flow on effect to younger girls and having more younger girls playing the sport means there’s more investment in the game and that builds long-term.”

Nicola Barr says the AFLW has made the right decision to expand to a national competition early on in its history, saying it will give more opportunities for female players to grow up playing the game like their male counterparts. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)
Nicola Barr says the AFLW has made the right decision to expand to a national competition early on in its history, saying it will give more opportunities for female players to grow up playing the game like their male counterparts. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Price had written in his column that the low and lopsided scorelines in the AFLW's fifth season of running was a damning mark on the league.

In his appearance on The Project, Price defended his column and said everyone is entitled to their opinion.

“Great thing about sport is you can all have an opinion and debate about it, which is what I was doing. I genuinely, whenever I write a column like that I absolutely 100 per cent believe it,” he said.

“Again yesterday you had a one-point score from one of the teams and the crowds are simply not going. You had a crowd about two weeks ago of 540 people only.

“That was a game between North Melbourne and the Cats, Geelong, played in Melbourne.”

Aly pointed out that a crowd of 20,000 attended a recent game at Adelaide Oval.

“Adelaide is an exception in this for some reason," Price said.

"There is nothing else to do in Adelaide so they are going to AFLW clearly. When the men’s game is not on the crowds are not improving.”

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