Essendon have joined the growing number of clubs clambering to join an expanded AFL Women’s competition in 2019.
The Bombers officially launched their bid, which includes an $18 million redevelopment of their Tullamarine headquarters, on Friday.
The AFL last month decided against expanding the women’s league next year despite the success of its inaugural season.
All 10 AFL clubs who didn’t participate in the first season were given the opportunity to apply for a licence to field a team in an expanded competition in 2019.
Geelong, North Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast were granted provisional licenses for the inaugural season but were ultimately unsuccessful in their bid to join the eight-team league.
A minimum of two new clubs will be introduced in 2019 with those five clubs given priority weighting in the selection process.
But Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell believes his club has put together a strong case for inclusion.
“It’s been something the club has had great intent to do for some time … (but) we’re probably 12 months behind where we would have liked to have been,” he said.
“There are some pretty natural elements that are going to make up our submission … linking strongly to indigenous remote communities and the north-west of Melbourne.”
The Bombers are pledging to play an AFLW game at a remote indigenous community, as well as Craigieburn and the club’s spiritual home at Windy Hill if successful.
Club legend Michael Long’s daughter Michaela has already spurned interest from other AFLW clubs and is pinning her hopes on running out for the Bombers in 2019.
“The Essendon footy club is the be-all and end-all for me … I didn’t want to be anywhere else,” Long said.
“I looked at GWS and the only reason why was because (former Bombers performance boss) John Quinn was there … I remember him working with dad when I was young.
“I looked at Geelong, they didn’t get their licence but maybe playing VFL with them, but I’m happy to wait as long as it takes to get a gig at Essendon.”
The AFL is expected to make a decision on AFLW expansion in late July.