The AFL advises the month of July marks the inaugural Women’s Coaching Month, celebrating women in coaching across all levels of the game while promoting coaching as a pathway for women and girls in the football community.
Women’s Coaching Month not only presents the opportunity to celebrate the contribution of current women in coaching across the country but also promotes programs and initiatives to get more women coaching at community level, across state leagues and at the AFL and AFLW level.
There are currently 1,537 women in coaching across the country, marking six per cent of all accredited coaches nationally.
Seventy-three per cent of women in coaching are leading women's football teams, 10 per cent are coaching men's teams and 17 per cent are coaching mixed junior teams.
This year has seen nine women employed as coaches in the NAB League working across both the girls’ and boys’ teams. The women coaching NAB League teams currently are:
- Cherie O’Neil – Bendigo Pioneers
- Emma Grant – Bendigo Pioneers
- Jacara Egan – Calder Cannons. Egan became the first Indigenous woman to coach in the League.
- Steph Binder – Dandenong Stingrays
- Melissa Hickey – Geelong Falcons
- Kate Cattanach – Eastern Ranges
- Courtney Young – Oakleigh Chargers
- Lisa Roper – Sandringham Dragons
- Hayley Gossow – Western Jets
The Victoria Metro, Victoria Country and South Australia teams participating in the NAB AFLW U19 Championships saw all-women coaching panels for the first time while all other State teams and the Allies saw at least once woman on their coaching panel.
In the rebel VFLW Competition, four of the 12 senior coaches are women. They are:
- Chloe McMillan – Collingwood
- Bec Goddard – Hawthorn
- Dale Robinson – Southern Saints
- Penny Cula-Reid – Williamstown
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AFL General Manager Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone said that recruiting more women into coaching roles is a key priority for all levels of the game.
“Women’s Coaching Month celebrates women already in coaching roles and shines a spotlight on coaching as a pathway for women who are passionate about the game,” Ms Livingstone said.
“While women and girls’ participation in community club football has grown by 163 per cent and total women and girls participating in all programs is up 54 per cent since the birth of AFLW, this growth hasn’t been reflected in the number of women coaching.
“While 600,000 women and girls play football, only six per cent of all registered coaches are women – there is work to be done in the coaching community and we are absolutely committed to continuing to do that work.
“Some of the AFLW’s most talented players are getting involved in coaching across various levels of our game which is great for the game. We’ve seen GWS GIANTS captain Alicia Eva join the boys NAB AFL Academy and GWS GIANTS VFL coaching panels, while former Geelong Cats captain Melissa Hickey continues her role as the Vic Country Senior Coach in the NAB AFLW Under 19s Competition.
“Whether it be as a player, an umpire, in administrative roles, or in coaching, we are always seeking new ways to encourage women and girls to become involved in the game they love.”
Current Calder Cannons Assistant Coach Jacara Egan encouraged women and girls across Australia to get involved in the AFL’s Women’s Coaching Pathways and begin their coaching journey.
“You can’t be what you can’t see, so we need more women in these programs and coaching because we just bring such a valuable perspective and a different perspective,” Egan said.
Over the course of July, the football community is invited to join AFLW and State League coaches alongside other industry experts, in a three-part webinar series that showcases women’s coaching pathways across all levels of the game.
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- GWS GIANTS skipper Alicia Eva has long been involved in coaching, stemming back to her pre-AFLW days, and last month became the first woman to join the NAB AFL Academy coaching panel and coached the boys AFL Academy team with Tarkyn Lockyer. Eva is also a Personal Development Coach for the men’s GWS GIANTS VFL team.
- Former Geelong captain Melissa Hickey (senior coach Vic Country; assistant Geelong Falcons and AFLW Academy).
- Former Fremantle and WCE player Cassie Davidson (Senior Coach, Woomeras).
- Former Collingwood player Emma Grant (Assistant, Bendigo Pioneers and Vic Country).
- Former Brisbane Lions player Lauren Arnell (Brisbane Academy).
- Current GWS GIANTS player Katherine Smith (Assistant, Allies).
- Current Melbourne player Krstel Petrevski (Assistant, Woomeras).
- Current Richmond player Monique Conti (Assistant, Medleys).
- Retired Gold Coast SUNS captain Sam Virgo, who is set to become the first woman to be the senior coach of a boys NAB AFL Under-17 Championships team, leading Queensland in July.
- Courtney Young (Vic Metro Coach).
The AFL’s Women’s Coaching Pathways include:
- She Can Coach Program
The ‘She Can Coach’ program was launched in 2018 and was established to increase the number of women in coaching, improve the capacity of these coaches, increase the visibility of coaching role models for women, and develop a network of women in coaching across all levels of the game. There are currently 36 women participating in the program, with four current Umpire Coaches, and 32 participants who are involved in coaching at either a community, state-league, or talent level. She Can Coach has expanded to a national program in 2021, after previously operating in Victoria only.
- BHP Women’s Coaching Academy
The BHP Women’s Coaching Academy was launched in 2018 and provided six women with the opportunity to complete the Level 3 Coaching Course, in addition to further development opportunities. In 2021, the following women were selected as part of the BHP Women’s Coaching Academy:
As part of Women’s Coaching Month, the AFL will be conducting a three-part Community Webinar series to showcase some of the women in coaching across our game as well as other industry experts who have created best practice programs and resources to support coaches of women and girls.
For further information about Women’s Coaching Month, and the AFL’s women’s coaching pathways including the She Can Coach program, BHP Women’s Coaching Academy and the AFL Victoria Women’s Coaching Academy, visit coach.afl/women-girls-coaching