A Facebook page made to defend the AFL Women’s competition from social media trolls was initially made just to vent out frustration, says Cal McLean, the creator of the page.
A lifelong fan of Aussie Rules Football, Mr McLean, 28, started up Dropkicks on AFLW Pages in 2019, following the start of the AFLW season. After reading plenty of negative comments directed to the players and the game, he had enough.
“My girlfriend then said why don’t you make a Facebook page? I never thought about making one, so I did it and it kind of blew up,” he said.
The page shows its support for the AFLW by calling out trolls who slander the game and has built a strong following of over 5000 likes. However, his work has come with his fair share of critics.
“I’ve had people message and have a go at me, calling me silly names like ‘White Knight’, ‘A Cuck’, or a ‘Beta’, but that’s water off a duck’s back for me,” he said.
“The page is about why are you wasting your time getting so upset about something you can so easily ignore. It’s not about forcing people to like something, if you don’t like AFLW it’s fine.”
Bec Goddard, who coached Adelaide’s AFLW team to a premiership in 2017, knows what it’s like to be in the firing line of internet trolls.
“I have the triple target. I’m openly gay, I’m a woman and I’m in football, so it certainly opens you up if you’re on social media and you have a profile in football,” she said.
While Ms Goddard gives praise to those who come to defend the league, she said that there are more positive ways to go about fighting back.
“It warms my heart when I see guys like this creating a great Facebook page, I do have a bit of a laugh,” she said.
“If you have an interaction with AFLW and it’s a positive one, you talk about that positively, rather than using a double-negative.”
Ms Goddard said that when men speak out about the issues in the AFLW, it is more powerful as opposed to when women speak about it.
“Women can talk about this all they like, but it’s not as powerful as a man saying, ‘hey that’s shit’. A powerful man or men in leadership positions,” she said.
“But it’s the kind things that I think ‘yeah guys really do care about this’. Guys talking out in the football world is a powerful thing.”