Former AFLW star Mel Hickey is one of 57 female coaches in the Coates Talent League this season. Photo: AFL Photos

Fifty-seven female coaches are helping shape the next generation of young footballers throughout the Coates Talent League this season, in a huge boost for the AFL's female pathway programs. 

Comprising of 12 boys and girls teams from Victoria and one from Tasmania, nine of the head coaching roles in the league are held by women while 48 sit across assistant coach and support coach positions.

A host of recognisable AFLW faces are making their way through the coaching pathway program including 11 past players and 16 current players. These include inaugural Geelong Cats' captain, Mel Hickey, former Carlton players Bella Ayre and Kate Darby, Essendon co-captain Bonnie Toogood and North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos player, Emma King.

At the Northern Knights alone there are six current AFLW players who are working as support coaches within the girls program including Gabby Newton, Sarah Sansonetti, Maddy Guerin, Jessica Fitzgerald, Riley Wilcox and Lulu Beatty.

AFL Acting Executive General Manager Football, Laura Kane, said she was proud to see the number of female coaches contributing to the Coates Talent League across both girls and boys programs.

"It's outstanding to see this extensive list of passionate, dedicated and qualified female coaches we have working in the Coates Talent League this season, and it's a testament to all the work and resourcing we’re putting in to developing our coaching pathways," Kane said.

"As part of our AFL Women's Football Vision we’re committed to ensuring pathways for women to coach at all levels – it’s going to strengthen our game and it’s a priority for the AFL as we continue to grow.

"To also see the number of current and former AFLW players getting involved in coaching is really exciting and will provide so many benefits for our sport as they inspire and teach the next generation.

"We acknowledge the incredible efforts of our Coates Talent Network coaching development staff who have played a huge role in recruiting and supporting this group of coaches."

Full list of coaches:

Coates Talent League Girls – Head Coaches
Martha Cantwell – Sandringham
Jodie Clifford – Tasmania
Allana Dickie – Northern Knights
Hayley Gossow – Western Jets
Mel Hickey – Geelong Falcons
Whitney Kennedy – Bendigo Pioneers
Emma Mackie – Murray Bushrangers
Sally Riley – GWV Rebels 

Coates Talent League Boys – Head Coaches
Lauren Morecroft – Eastern Ranges 

Coates Talent League Girls – Assistant Coaches
Mia Austin – Eastern Ranges
Bella Ayre – Bendigo Pioneers
Janelle Bertoni – Bendigo Pioneers 
Cassie Blakeway – Geelong Falcons 
Erin Burns – GWV Rebels
Susan Cadman – Northern Knights
Claire Cartwright – Murray Bushrangers 
Laura Frazer – Northern Knights
Ashleigh Guest – Western Jets
Tegan Hamilton – Sandringham Dragons
Natasha Heffernan – Geelong Falcons (16s Head Coach)
Alix Kearney – Oakleigh Chargers
Shayla Marsh – Gippsland Power
Katie McAloon – GWV Rebels
Maddy Raccosta – Dandenong Stingrays
Erin Riley – GWV Rebels 
Charlie Vandenberg – Tasmania Devils 

Coates Talent League Boys – Assistant Coaches
Penny Cula-Reid – Oakleigh Chargers 

Coates Talent League Girls – Support Coaches
Lulu Beatty – Northern Knights
Kate Darby – Geelong Falcons
Tori De Groot – Dandenong Stingrays
Keely Coyne – Sandringham Dragons
Mack Eardley – Dandenong Stingrays
Jessica Fitzgerald – Northern Knights
Maddy Guerin – Northern Knights
Taylah Hassett – Geelong Falcons (16s Program)
Mimi Hill – Oakleigh Chargers
Emmerson Hitch – GWV Rebels 
Chelsea Humphrey – Bendigo Pioneers
Kalani Jennings – GWV Rebels
Annabel Johnson – Geelong Falcons 
Emma King – Oakleigh Chargers
Shannon Knox – Geelong Falcons
Cristy Marsh – Dandenong Stingrays
Ava McKeegan – Geelong Falcons (16s Program)
Emily McKie – Eastern Ranges
Sophie Molan – GWV Rebels
Tara Morgan – Northern Knights
Gabby Newton – Northern Knights
Bronte Ryan – Northern Knights
Charley Ryan – Dandenong Stingrays
Sarah Sansonetti – Northern Knights
Paige Scott – GWV Rebels
Bonnie Toogood – Calder Cannons
Jazmin Tweedle-O’Donnell – Sandringham Dragons
Courtney Wakefield – Bendigo Pioneers
Danyel Waters – Calder Cannons
Riley Wilcox – Northern Knights

About the Coates Talent League:

- It's Australia’s premier underage football pathway competition in the eastern states and is an important development program for emerging coaches, umpires, administrators and support staff.  

- The Coates Talent League features 12 boys and girls programs from Victoria and one from Tasmania for the full season, while academy programs from New South Wales (GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans), Queensland (Gold Coast SUNS and Brisbane Lions) and Northern Territory (NT State Academy) compete for part of the season.  

- For more information on the Coates Talent League, click here.