Giants forward Cora Staunton says the AFLW needs to make a "dramatic shift" to end teams having to play multiple games in the same week as GWS prepares to play three matches in eight days.
The Giants are set to play a rescheduled round five match against St Kilda on Wednesday night in Sydney before coming to Canberra to play against Carlton on Sunday night.
The game in the capital was initially scheduled for Friday night, but was moved back to accommodate COVID-19 postponements from earlier in the season.
The move is set to have an impact on crowds given the Sunday night timeslot, while Giants players will be exhausted after a hectic schedule.
In round five the Giants squad was decimated by a COVID-19 outbreak, forcing that match against the Saints to be postponed, and squeezed in mid-week between round seven and eight.
Though the impact of COVID-19 on sport has been unavoidable, Staunton believes it's only a matter of time before such fixture headaches, pandemic or not, will be a thing of the past.
There's a push for the AFLW to make players full-time athletes as the sport continues to grow.
"Some things are being done well, and there's things that need to improve," Staunton said.
"It's very hard to talk about scheduling with the pandemic and COVID. That has had a huge effect on a number of different issues over the last two years.
"If a team is wiped out with COVID and they miss a game they're fine to slot it in a certain time. We are part-time, we're only playing or training for six months a year. So they do have to get in a window, but I certainly think there's things that they can improve on going forward.
"They're going to have to make a dramatic shift in the next couple of years. With four new expansion teams coming in, I think there's going to be more pressure on the AFL to make the competition fully professional."
From an eight-team competition in its inaugural year in 2017, the AFLW will boast 18 teams in 2023, making the current season structure unsustainable for much longer.
"The game has certainly grown, it's probably growing faster than the AFL ever expected. With 18 teams in the competition next year, there will be a full-arm push to be fully professional as quickly as possible.
"They're trying to fit the AFLW season into a standalone season, where it's not clashing with [AFL], and that in time is not going to be able to happen. And there's playing the women's season right in the middle of summer, which has its own problems as well.
"On the positive side, the game has grown so well and the amount of young girls that want to play, it's on an upward trajectory in time. They will be, hopefully one day, on par with the men's game."
The Giants are 11th on the ladder and coming off a rough couple of weeks, kicking just one goal in their past two matches against the Adelaide Crows and Melbourne Demons.
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