TO SUPPORT the continued progression and growth of girls football, the AFL has committed to boosting the resources available to girls pathway programs in Victoria and Tasmania in 2023.
The increased support will enhance the NAB League Girls programs to ensure equity with the boys programs and align with the AFL’s Women’s Football Vision released late last year. The vision commits to ensuring pathways for girls are visible and well-resourced as part of the continued progression of the game through to 2030.
There will be a broader benefit to community football through increased development opportunities for community coaches, players, umpires and administrators, as the NAB League regional programs will be better placed to develop and maintain stronger connections with local clubs and leagues.
The additional support will also help to provide increased opportunities for women in leadership and coaching roles, while aiding the game’s commitment to providing safe, inclusive and enjoyable environments for girls and boys.
The regional pathway programs will now each have a dedicated full-time NAB League Girls coach and a dedicated full-time NAB League Boys coach, where currently the coaching position covers both girls and boys programs. There will also be increased wellbeing, administrative, high performance and medical resources for programs. The resourcing commitment factors in the recent expansion of the NAB AFLW competition, changes to the season timing and the important role that the Victorian and Tasmanian pathways play in providing players for AFLW including the ten Victorian-based AFLW teams.
AFL Head of Talent Pathways, Grant Williams, said: “The AFL’s commitment towards additional resourcing for our pathway programs in Victoria and Tasmania will help to ensure football will strengthen its position as the sport of choice for emerging athletes, coaches, umpires and administrators in these heartland markets.
“Having equity in the way girls and boys pathway programs are resourced will benefit everyone involved, with a positive flow-on effect to community football as players, coaches continue their involvement in the grassroots game during and after their pathway experience.”
The commitment to providing additional support to girls pathways follows the AFL Commission approving more than $5 million in new investment earlier this year to fund phase one of the Women and Girls Action Plan, developed to help achieve the aspirations in participation outlined in the Women’s Football Vision.
In 2022 there were 18 women employed in various coaching roles across NAB League Girls and Boys programs – a 100 per cent increase in women employed across the NAB League from 2021.
These women were:
• Kate Dixon – Bendigo Pioneers
• Jacara Egan – Calder Cannons
• Allana Dickie – Calder Cannons
• Kelly Fallon – Dandenong Stingrays
• Kate Cattanach – Eastern Ranges
• Lauren Morecroft– Eastern Ranges (Past AFLW Player)
• Natasha Heffernan– Geelong Falcons
• Shayla Marsh – Gippsland Power
• Sally Riley – GWV Rebels (Past AFLW Player)
• Gabby Newton – Northern Knights (AFLW player)
• Laura Frazer – Northern Knights
• Ines McKay – Northern Knights
• Claire Cartwright – Murray Bushrangers
• Emma Mackie – Murray Bushrangers (Past AFLW Player)
• Nadia Von Bertouch – Oakleigh Chargers (Past AFLW Player)
• Tilly Arthur – Sandringham Dragons
• Lisa Roper – Sandringham Dragons
• Hayley Gossow – Western Jets
In addition to the Women’s Football Vision and Women and Girls Action Plan, below summarises some of the recent developments and initiatives associated with the growth of women’s football:
AFL appoints Hall of Famer Debbie Lee to key role
As part of the action plan, inaugural female Australian Football Hall of Famer Debbie Lee was recently appointed to the role of National Women and Girls Action Plan Lead at the AFL.
AFLW player pay increase
Season Seven of the NAB AFLW competition sees players received a 94 per cent pay increase, after the AFL and AFL Players Association (AFLPA) announced a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) prior to the season. Total player payments is $25.6 million for Season Seven, compared to $10.4 million in Season Six – an increase of 146 per cent, and four times any other professional women’s team sport in the country.
Women’s coaching at the forefront
The Women’s Coach Acceleration, BHP Women’s Coaching Academy and She Can Coach will increase opportunities for women coaches and fastback their development. Co-funded by the AFL, nine clubs will employ full-time female coaches - including Daisy Pearce, Chelsea Randall, and Erin Phillips - to be mentored by a senior men’s coach over a two-year period.
GenW Executive Women’s Talent Program
The AFL's GenW Executive Women's Talent Program features eight senior women from across the industry and was designed to advance their careers and develop their leadership. Debbie Lee was a participant in the program, along with trailblazers Trisha Squires, Elisa Koch, Laura Kane, Natalie Fagg, Kerrie Brewer, Kasey Passmore and Sarah Albon.