The AFL has recently communicated with all AFLW recruiting and list management teams to confirm a revised model for the girls’ national Talent Pathway Program in 2022, which will provide greater opportunities for Tasmania’s best young talent.

The reshaped program structure ensures that the future stars of the women’s game across the country will be given the opportunity to play at the highest standard of underage representative football this year as part of their elite development, while ensuring the NAB AFLW National Championships can proceed in the safest possible way.

The 2022 NAB AFLW National Championships will be played in March and April and will involve under 18 representative teams from Vic Metro, Vic Country, New South Wales/ACT, Queensland, South Australia and the Allies (combined Northern Territory/Tasmania team) playing three matches each at venues across the country.

Because of the ongoing border restrictions in place in Western Australia, teams will not be able to travel in and out of the state. WA will instead play two matches against WAFL representative teams in April and is scheduled to play South Australia in June, pending government restrictions in place at the time.

The reshaped program structure, which involves same day travel for teams, replaces the carnival model which was originally planned for and would’ve had all teams spending a number of days in the one location.

With WA unable to travel, NSW/ACT will now field a standalone side in the program in an exciting development for girls football in that state and territory, which was formerly part of the Allies team. More talented young players in NSW/ACT will have the opportunity to showcase their skills against the country’s best ahead of a second NSW-based side, Sydney, joining the NAB AFLW competition next season.

With the Allies comprising players primarily from Northern Territory and Tasmania, more players from those football markets will also get the opportunity to compete in the NAB AFLW National Championships.

The championships will kick off when Vic Country faces Vic Metro on Sunday 20 March, with the venue to be confirmed.

2022 NAB AFLW National Championships
Sunday 20 March: Vic Country v Vic Metro (Vic)
Sunday 10 April: NSW/ACT v South Australia (NSW)
Friday 15 April: Western Australia v WAFL (TBC) (WA)
Saturday 16 April: South Australia v Vic Country (SA)
Monday 18 April: Western Australia v WAFL (TBC) (WA)
Monday 18 April: NSW/ACT v Allies (NT/Tas) (Sydney)
Tuesday 19 April: Queensland v Vic Metro (Gold Coast)
Friday 22 April: Vic Metro v NSW/ACT (Melbourne)
Friday 22 April: Allies (NT/Tas) v South Australia (Melbourne)
Friday 22 April: Vic Country v Queensland (Melbourne)
Saturday 30 April: Queensland v Allies (NT/Tas) (Qld)
11/12 June: South Australia v Western Australia (TBC) (SA)
TBC: Woomeras v Medleys – Diversity talent game

AFL National Talent Development & Competitions Manager, Grant Williams, said: “The reshaped program for the NAB AFLW National Championships gives the most talented young female footballers in the country the opportunity to develop against the best, while taking into account putting the health and safety of all involved first.

“I thank all stakeholders across the country for working with us and understanding the challenges we continue to face that make holding a four or five-day carnival in one location unworkable given the ongoing COVID situation.

“We look forward to welcoming WA back into the full NAB AFLW National Championships program next year. In the meantime, it’s fantastic for many footballers in New South Wales/ACT who will have the opportunity to represent their standalone state and territory side, particularly given opportunities for them at the elite level will only grow with the introduction of the Swans team into the NAB AFLW competition next season, alongside the Giants.

“Football for women and girls across the country has gone through a massive growth phase in the last decade and the standard is improving noticeably across the board. The NAB AFLW National Championships will showcase many future stars of the game who will become household names as AFLW players in the future.”

A NAB Player of the Championships medal will be awarded to the competition’s most outstanding performer, followed by the announcement of the 2022 NAB AFLW National Championships Under 18 All-Australian Team.

Squads will be announced closer to the championships.