Hawthorn FC announces all-female VFLW coaching panel

Hawthorn FC announces all-female VFLW coaching panel

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Hawthorn Football Club has announced an all-female coaching structure for its VFLW team.

Hawthorn’s VFLW coaching panel will be led by senior coach Bec Goddard, assistant coaches Christina Polatajko and Hayley Gregory, and development coaches Lou Wotton, Natasha Beck and Steph Carroll.

With just one female head coach across the entire 14 teams in the AFLW competition, Hawthorn said they identified a need to develop female coaches. Bec Goddard said it was a good leadership decision from the club.

“A healthy attitude about what women can achieve is contagious and to be a part of a club that wants to be a carrier of that attitude is fantastic,” Goddard said.

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Goddard, who has previously coached the Adelaide Football Club to the premiership in the inaugural AFLW season, said overt action was needed by clubs to ensure women have the opportunity to fill coaching roles.

“Overt action is the key to getting diversity in roles across the AFL and it takes brave leadership to make bold moves like this,” she said.

“This coaching panel combined with Hawthorn’s support, is kicking down the door to these opportunities so others can walk through them.”

“I’m so excited for young, inspiring and current AFL players to see what these women can do and I am confident that under this new model at Hawthorn these women will now get their moment to shine and others will follow in their footsteps.”

Christina Polatajko is set to move to Hawthorn in 2021, and will be responsible for the forward line. She brings 15 years of coaching experience to the club, and has previously won the Female Coach of the Year Award at the 2019 AFL Victoria Community Football Awards.

Hawthorn CEO Justin Reeves said there was a significant gap in development pathways for female coaches and that the club was committed to increasing women’s participation in AFL.

“While 2020 placed a serious handbrake on our VFLW program, the club decided that it would not let these obstacles hamper the future plans of our VFLW, and in the coming years, AFLW programs,” he said.

“In the current industry climate, there is a significant gap in the development pathways available to female coaches and in our discussions, it became clear that if nothing changed then we’d continue to find ourselves looking for top end female coaching talent and be unable to find.

“By implementing an all-female coaching panel, in a structured environment with the right support and development opportunities built into the program we will be making a significant and meaningful contribution to the furtherment of women’s participation in the AFL.

“This is undoubtedly the right decision for our club and for our game. We are committed to growing women’s participation in sport across all levels and the time to make significant change and lasting impact is now.”

Feature Image: Hawthorn FC

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