It has been a busy off-season for the Coates Talent League programs as they prepare for the 2024 campaign, set to begin on the weekend of March 23. 

A number of former Coates Talent League program staff were snapped up by AFL clubs in recent times.

They include Geelong Falcons Talent Lead Bree Beckley who was appointed Football Operations Manager at Geelong Football Club and Calder Cannons Regional Development Coach Boys Andrew Sturgess who joined Fremantle Football Club as a development coach.

Meanwhile, Oakleigh Chargers Administration & Operations Coordinator Lizzie Dingeldei has been appointed to a role with the new Tasmanian AFL club and Coates Talent League High Performance Lead Matt Glossop has joined the Queensland Academy of Sport.

This shows how the talent pathway system is not just for players, coaches and umpires but also presents development and career progression opportunities for staff in areas of sports administration, high performance and wellbeing. 
Below is a summary of the coaching, administrative and high-performance appointments have been made across both the boys and girls programs ahead of the 2024 season:

Jesse Drever - Regional Talent Lead, Geelong Falcons
Jesse is a highly motivated and energetic sports administrator with a wealth of experience across the National Basketball League, Cricket Australia, Leisure Networks and more recently with AFL CAIRNS as the Events, Communication & Marketing Manager. Jesse is also no stranger to the Victorian Talent Pathway having been a highly valued member of the Geelong Falcons program from 2011 – 2022, in a range of roles across High Performance, Social Media, Administration & Operations and as a Development Coach. 

Jarrad Donders – Regional Development Coach Girls, Eastern Ranges
The Eastern Ranges have also seen movement across their programs, with Jarrad Donders being appointed to the role of Eastern Ranges Girls Development Coach, replacing Ash Close. Jarrad has a strong connection to the club, having grown up in the Eastern Ranges region playing at Emerald Football Club. He is well suited to his new coaching role, with a background in teaching and a recent appointment to assistant principle of his school. Jarrad is looking forward to the 2024 season after the Eastern Ranges girls fell agonisingly short in the 2023 Grand Final.

Ash Close - Regional Development Coach Boys, Oakleigh Chargers
Ash Close joins the Oakleigh Chargers after one season with the Eastern Ranges where he coached the girls team to the 2023 Coates Talent League Grand Final. Prior to this, Ash spent over 10 years at the Collingwood Football Club, first as a football department intern and then in a development coaching position, with a short stint playing in the VFL himself. 

Sam Willatt - Regional Development Coach Boys, Calder Cannons
Sam's journey to the most senior coach at Calder started all the way back at the UK at the University of Birmingham and the North London Lions, before he joined the VFL with the Western Bulldogs, Sandringham and then Coburg, with some time as coach of VAFA club North Brunswick as well.

Stingrays bring former players back to support girls program
The Stingrays have also appointed a number of past players to coach and development roles, including Collingwood FC AFLW player Jordyn Allen as Specialist Coach. Jordyn enjoyed a decorated career at the Stingrays, including serving as captain in both her bottom and top-age years, representing the AFLW Academy and making the All-Australian team following her performance with Vic Country in the Under 18 National Championships. This led to her being taken with pick 5 by the Magpies in the 2018 AFLW Draft. 

The program has also welcomed back Hayley Monk and Patrick Gerdan, who both finished their playing careers with the Stingrays in 2022 and return as Development Coach and High-Performance Intern respectively. 

Michaela Adair – Coates Talent League Competition Operations Coordinator
Michaela has been appointed to the secondment role of Coates Talent League Competition Operations Coordinator. Michaela has spent the past seven years at the Dandenong Stingrays in a range of roles, including Sports Trainer and Administration and Operations Coordinator.

Ashley Dawes - Administration & Operations Coordinator, Dandenong Stingrays
Ashley steps into the role replacing Michaela Adair. Ash has been a sports trainer with the Stingrays for the past two seasons, as well as being involved with Victoria Country U16 Girls in 2023, and is looking forward to the opportunity to experience more of the Talent pathway programs.

The 2024 Coates Talent League is set to begin in late March, with the full fixture to be released in the coming weeks.