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AFLW: Academy to tackle lack of female coaches

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I don't think it's true that there are no female coaches in the system worthy of being senior coaches
Nicole Livingstone

NONE of the 10 AFL Women's teams will have a female senior coach in 2019, with the AFL seeking to tackle this imbalance and fast-track opportunities for female coaches via a national coaching academy.

Six women will be selected from either AFL, AFLW or state league clubs, with an eye on developing opportunities for coaching roles.

The AFL's head of women's football Nicole Livingstone told AFL.com.au the academy will help promote the "visibility" of female coaches.

"When we started AFLW, part of the objective was to try to create opportunities both on and off the field. This is part of the progression of that," Livingstone said.

"We've gone out to states and AFL clubs to nominate women in the system. Part of it is also to give them a cohort to be able to develop and seek opportunities together.

"Some of the anecdotal reporting from the Australian Sports Commission is if you place a woman in that situation by themselves, it's a little more difficult. Having that small cohort of six will also help in giving each other support."

Adelaide's Bec Goddard and Fremantle's Michelle Cowan both chose to leave their clubs after two seasons, decisions Livingstone said were a "blow".

Michelle Cowan left Fremantle after two seasons as AFLW coach. Picture: AFL Photos

The two were replaced by Matthew Clarke (Adelaide) and Trent Cooper (Fremantle).

"I don't think it's true that there are no female coaches in the system worthy of being senior coaches. Maybe they're just not as visible as some of the male coaches," she said.

"It was a blow to lose both Michelle and Bec out of the system. Bec's obviously still involved in football, coaching in Canberra (she's assistant at NEAFL club Canberra) and Michelle's taking a break at the moment and then reassessing how she gets back involved.

"There are some great opportunities in Western Australia with West Coast coming in (in 2020) and trying to develop the pathways over there, so I'd love to see Michelle involved in that.

"To line up in season three with 10 male coaches of 10 AFLW clubs is not the best scenario, and we'd like to see a change," she said.

"That's not to say that what we're trying to achieve is pigeonhole women as AFLW coaches. We're actually trying to give them opportunity in football in general."

Successful applicants for the program, which will run from September to July next year, will complete an AFL level 3 coaching course, an individual development plan, be assigned a "bespoke" industry mentor, and take in placements and education sessions.

The AFL's initiative follows AFL Victoria's announcement on Monday of its own female coaching program 'She Can Coach', which is supported by the Victorian government.

Seventeen women from the AFLW, VFLW and TAC Cup (under-18s) competitions will take part, including former AFLW Collingwood duo Penny Cula-Reid (representing Collingwood VFLW) and Bree White (Western Bulldogs VFLW), as well as ex-AFLW Bulldog Lauren Morecroft (Essendon VFLW).

Each coach will be assigned a mentor, learn AFL strategy and trends and have access to online courses, as well as receive assistance in applying for future roles.

She Can Coach participants
Cherie O'Neill (Bendigo Pioneers TAC Cup)
Shannon McFerran (Carlton VFLW)
Chloe McMillan (Collingwood AFLW)
Penny Cula-Reid (Collingwood VFLW)
Jane Lange (Darebin Falcons VFLW)
Julia Chiera (Darebin Falcons VFLW)
Lisa Roper (Darebin Falcons VFLW)
Lauren Morecroft (Essendon VFLW)
Josie Smith (Essendon VFLW)
Natalie Wood (Geelong VFLW)
Natasha Duffy (Geelong Falcons TAC Cup)
Kim Ledder (Oakleigh Chargers TAC Cup)
Tamara Hyett (Sandringham Dragons TAC Cup)
Dale Robinson (Southern Saints VFLW)
Stacey Bourke (Southern Saints VFLW)
Bree White (Western Bulldogs VFLW)
Amy Catterall (Williamstown VFLW)