AFLW players' perspectives: So your AFLW season is over - now what?

Isadora McLeay and Imogen Evans are AFLW players currently taking part in an internship at Disney and ESPN, where they are given the opportunity to gain real-life work experience while having the flexibility to pursue their footballing goals and aspirations.

This week, the girls discuss what exactly what happens when a 10-game season comes to a close while other teams are vying for the premiership.

Imogen Evans, Collingwood

The 10-round home and away season was officially over for eight AFLW teams on Nov. 5 which begs the question, what do AFLW players do now?

For most, it means returning to full-time work, as well as a bunch of 'footy trips'.

The abrupt end to Collingwood's season was difficult to comprehend. I found it hard to believe that we didn't have training the following week, seeing as we were 'supposed' to be playing finals, an opportunity we starved ourselves of through poor performances.

It's such a weird feeling, going from a completely structured and rigid routine to suddenly having endless autonomy over your routine.

In season, footy is all that I worry about.

When I wake up I'm thinking about how I can best prepare myself for training. I have to say no to a lot of social events because I have training or a game to play (which I'm not complaining about, just stating the facts), constantly planning my nutrition so that I'm adequately fuelled for the demands of my varying week, worrying about getting enough quality sleep, ensuring I'm always doing my recovery, mediating, and journaling in order to keep my mind healthy.

AFL is a lot more than a game, it's a lifestyle and when it ends, it's an adjustment. Especially when preseason 2024 doesn't begin for at least another six months. It's a long break in between drinks.

For me, I'm lucky enough to be working part-time at ESPN. So I now have time to fly home and see my family, catch up with friends, and get back to work on weaknesses identified during the season.

My plans are to have a bit of a break from the mental demands of AFL and its subsequent environment.

I'm going to run a half marathon and complete a triathlon within the next three months before I start shifting my focus to more footy-specific training in early 2024.

Even though our offseason is tremendously long, from a glass half full lens, it gives me loads of time that I can use towards improving myself as a footballer, outside of the pressures that come with elite sport, which is a luxury that men in the AFL don't necessarily have.

Isadora McLeay, GWS

After just 10 weeks, the season for the eight other clubs that didn't make finals is over.

With what felt like the longest preseason ever, for it all to be over in just over two months, after preparing since as early as January, is disappointing.

Over the next few weeks my teammates and I will sit and watch other teams fight for the ultimate prize, the premiership cup.

Feelings of jealousy and envy will prevail but to be able to watch how some of the best teams and players compete will be a real learning experience.

As the season only lasted 10 rounds to now plan the offseason accordingly is the challenge.

Some may think that now that the season is over players can now go do whatever they want until May next year, which isn't the case.

Some players will head back to their full-time jobs they've had to work around for the majority of the year, and unfortunately miss out on big offseason holidays, as their leave has already been used for in season trainings/games.

Players will be expected to start individual programs in January, so they aren't playing catch up when preseason starts, and the challenge of remaining motivated before the season begins. Finishing the season not where we wanted to be definitely helps feed the hunger to work even harder for the next season.

For now though, I will be tuning into AFLW Finals to be able to watch a new crowned premier.