The AFLW pre-season is officially underway, coming amid ongoing negotiations over the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Players head into the new season without the new deal being done and without a fixture, with the league only confirming that the season will kick off in the first weekend of September.

AFLW players are keen to see the season extended beyond ten games, a notable issue in current CBA negotiations, with people within the league eager to see the AFLW reach full-time professionalism.

Melbourne defender Libby Birch revealed her desire to see more AFLW games per season while speaking to ABC Radio, ideally hoping to see a 17 game season by 2026.

"It's exciting because we started our pre-season yesterday, which is awesome, but there's the other side to it where we find ourselves in the same position year after year, where we've started another pre-season without a CBA or something locked in for the next year or the following year," Birch said.

"Scheduled at the moment is 10 games, and we've had 10 games over the past two seasons. We'd love to see a growth of one or two games each season hereon in, because our goal by 2026 is to have 17 home and away games, which makes sense, because we have an amazing collective 18-team competition now.

"We've done an amazing job to get there, but we'd love to see growth in the game continue."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 28: Melbourne Demons AFLW player Libby Birch speaks to the media during a Melbourne Demons AFL and AFLW media opportunity at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 28, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The AFLW is now heading into season eight, with last year seeing the league expand and feature 18 teams in a ten-round home and away season.

While the league has seen significant growth since its inception, Birch believes that more growth is needed to expand the reach of the sport.

"The advantage of having more games and the reason we want to have more games is we want to play in front of our fans more, we want to have more visibility to everyone out there who loves AFLW, and [develop] our fan base," Birch said.

"I think it's just such an important sport in Australia, and we've seen across eight years – I've been playing AFLW for eight years now – and it's grown so much. Just to see the amount of girls playing footy now, it's an important step for us, to make sure we're heading towards full-time professionalism by 2026."

The start of the 2023 AFLW season is set to coincide with the AFL finals bye week.