The AFL has launched the third annual ‘Women’s Coaching Month’, supported by BHP, to take place throughout July.
Women’s Coaching Month presents an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of current women and girls in coaching roles across the country and promote the pathway programs and initiatives to get more women coaching from grassroots through to the elite level.
The surge in popularity in women and girls football since the inception of the AFLW competition in 2017 has seen numbers of women coaching rise sharply too. In 2023 there are more than 2,000 women and girls registered as community football coaches nationally.
There is strong representation across state league and talent pathway programs, with a highlight being the rise in women coaches in the Coates Talent League, up from zero in 2022 to nine this year across the boys and girls programs. Even with this growth, recruiting more women into coaching roles at all levels is a priority for the game.
Gold Coast SUNS AFLW Assistant Coach Jennifer Revell, first started her coaching career in Moranbah, Queensland in 2014 as the Senior Women’s Head Coach before transitioning to a combination of youth and senior women’s coach between 2014 and 2022.
“I started coaching in 2014 after moving to Moranbah, outside of Mackay, from Melbourne in 2012. With no female league, I would travel two hours to Mackay just to have a kick and train with a group for an hour,” she said.
“Eventually after getting sick of the commute, I approached the local football club in Moranbah to see if I could host an Open Day with an opportunity of having an exhibition game against Mackay. It was never my intention to coach the team, however with no coach it was something I fell into.
“From the 2013 exhibition game, Moranbah became one of four teams in Mackay’s first female football league in 2014.”
After spending two years with the Moranbah Bulldogs, Jennifer moved to Mackay in 2016, playing in the first women’s team at the Mackay City Hawks, taking home two premierships.
As a coach, Jennifer has coached community, youth and adult representative teams:
· 2014 – Moranbah Bulldogs Senior Women’s Head Coach (community)
· 2016, 2017, 2018 – u17 Youth Girls Head Coach (Mackay rep)
· 2017 – NQ Kookaburras u16 Youth Boys Assistant Coach (NQ Youth)
· 2017 – Mackay City Hawks Senior Women’s Head Coach (community)
· 2018, 2019 – u17/14 Youth Girls CQ/NQ Head Coach (NQ/CQ rep)
· 2017 – 2022 – GC Academy Head Coach Female – Mackay (Academy)
· 2022 – NQ Senior Women’s Assistant Coach (NQ Women’s)
· 2023 – GC Academy Head Coach Male – Mackay (Academy)
· 2023 – NQ Senior Women’s Head Coach
· 2023 – Assistant Coach, Gold Coast SUNS AFLW
In 2023, after a successful career coaching in Mackay, Central Queensland, and North Queensland, Jennifer was appointed as an Assistant Coach for the Gold Coast SUNS AFLW team and was ready to give girls and women a pathway that wasn’t available when she was younger.
“With my role at the SUNS, there are many layers – the ability to grow my knowledge and experience at an elite level, the relationships I get to build with players and staff and the opportunity to influence other aspiring female coaches,” she said.
“With the acceleration of female participation, there’s a real opportunity for more females to get involved in what is still a heavily male dominated space. There are so many recourses and support provided by AFL Queensland, which cater for a range of coaches at different levels.
“Both the Gold Coast SUNS Academy and BHP She Can Coach program have given me the tools and experience to develop myself as a coach and a person.”
The BHP and AFL partnership focuses on developing girls and women who want to play, coach, umpire and administer our game, and encourages men and the broader community to be advocates and allies in this space. The partnership is a holistic one that focuses on promoting leadership, inclusion, equality and wellbeing, recognising that progression for women is what’s best for the community.
BHP has strong ties to coaching through the BHP Women’s Coaching Academy, which has seen 28 coaches graduate since 2018 and a further eight are currently involved as part of the 2023 program. BHP is also the proud presenting partner of the National She Can Coach program alongside the Women’s Coaching Month campaign.
Another key program to promote women’s coaching is the Women’s Coach Acceleration Program, with nine full-time coaching positions within AFLW programs co-funded by the AFL and clubs.
The BHP Community Coach of the Year Award recognises the outstanding performance and contribution community coaches make to progressing women’s football and shaping their local community. Nominations can be made here.
AFL General Manager Women’s Football, Nicole Livingstone, said that growing and supporting women in coaching is an imperative to ensure the future success of women and girls football.
“We have seen significant momentum generated in the women and girls coaching space in recent years with numbers growing and greater emphasis placed on attraction and retention, not just for women coaching women and girls but women coaching men and boys as well.
“There is a lot of work to be done to continue to build women and girls coaching in Australian football but the significant progress made and sharp focus we have in this space has given us a really strong foundation.
“The support provided by BHP has been instrumental in developing programs designed to support women and girls in coaching and we are seeing the benefits of the programs, including the BHP Women’s Coaching Academy, Women’s Coach Acceleration Program and National She Can Coach program.
“I look forward to seeing the women who are involved in coaching at all levels of the game share the spotlight over the course of July as we tell great stories of those who make such an important contribution through coaching, grow awareness of programs and hope to attract more women to coaching.”