The 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season is set to commence on the Easter weekend in April, with a fixture to be finalised early in the new year.
The fixture will revert back to a 21-round-home-and-away season inclusive of byes, with each team to play each other twice before the finals series.
The West Coast Eagles will return to the WAFL in 2021, with 10 teams competing for the Optus WAFL Premiership.
The traditional top-five will return, seeing the best teams battle it out over a four-week finals series, with the Optus WAFL Grand Final date and venue yet to be confirmed.
A number of rules will be implemented in 2021, headlined by the quarter length returning to 20 minutes in line with the AFL changes.
The location of the mark at kick-ins will move to 15-metres towards the centre of the ground, while the defending player will only be permitted to stand (or jump up and down vertically) on a fixed location denoting the mark as directed by the umpire or receive a 50-metre penalty.
WAFC Executive Manager – WAFL & Talent, Scott Baker said the timing of the fixture release could vary depending on the format of the AFL fixture for 2021.
“At this point in time, our intention is to release fixtures for the Optus WAFL and WAFLW seasons at the end of January,” Baker said.
“The 21-round-home-and-away season continues to provide the fairest fixture as well as creating a highly-competitive and exciting state league competition here in WA.”
“We are extremely excited about the upcoming season with a number of players returning to the WAFL from the AFL. The inclusion of these talented players will take the competition to a new level in 2021.”
“West Coast returning to the competition will no doubt add another layer of interest to the 2021 season.”
“We also want to acknowledge the commitment of all WAFL players in this most recent season, in what was a very challenging environment, with salary cap cuts and a shorter competition.”
“The players in particular and everyone at WAFL clubs should be commended for their commitment in the role they played in getting a season completed in 2020.”
The 2021 Optus WAFLW Premiership Season start date will shift to the weekend of February 20 & 21.
The change to an earlier start has been made to allow for recent changes by the AFL, with the AFLW U19s National Championships brought forward to the April school holidays and the AFLW Combine and AFLW Draft being moved to late July 2021.
The competition will remain at six teams, allowing for a 15-round-home-and-away fixture with two byes, with each team playing each other three times.
“The changes to the Optus WAFLW season allow our female talent pathway athletes to be extremely well prepared prior to the U19 AFLW National Championships,” Baker said.
“Running concurrently to the AFLW season also gives a boost to the competition, with AFLW players able to play in a premier state league competition when not selected at AFLW level.”
“The players are still be able to return to the Optus WAFLW competition at the back end of the season, once their AFLW commitments are completed.”
West Perth Women’s have been granted a provisional license for the 2021 season, before making the transition to the Optus WAFLW League competition in 2022.
The Women’s fixture will be released in January 2021.