The Australian Football League (AFL) has agreed for the first time to allow a transgender footballer to play women’s football at state level.

Hannah Mouncey, 28, who previously played at local level in Canberra, hopes to take to the field in the state of Victoria this season.

The AFL said it wanted everyone to be able to play Australian rules football.

Before she began her gender transition in 2015, Mouncey played for the Australian men’s handball team.

The AFL’s decision means she can now partake in any of its affiliated state leagues during the 2018 season.

In a statement uploaded to Twitter, she thanked her supporters – but not the AFL itself.

“I think it would be highly inappropriate for me to thank the AFL for allowing me to do something open to every other Australian, which the science and research has supported all along,” she said.

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Despite the decision made in Mouncey’s case, the AFL has still to define its national framework for gender diversity.

“These are complex issues and we are considering expert opinion, international frameworks and feedback from the communities that are impacted by our decisions,” Tanya Hosch, the AFL’s inclusion and social policy manager, said on the AFL website.

Australian rules football consists of two teams of 18 players and takes place on an oval-shaped field.

Players can position themselves anywhere on the field and may use any part of their bodies to move the ball, making it a more physical-contact sport, more similar to rugby.

Australian rules football has the highest spectator attendance and highest number of television viewers of all sports in Australia.