You can train to become a better player, through coaching drills, exercises and feedback. But for aspiring coaches, where can they have firsthand experience to practice before a Game Day?
That’s where the ‘She Can Coach’ program, specifically designed for aspiring female coaches, steps in.
The program aims to increase the number of female coaches, improve the capacity of female coaches, increase the visibility of female role models in coaching and develop a network of female coaches.
In Queensland, Jack Barry, AFL Queensland’s Coaching Development and Education Lead, is leading the national program for a second year.
On Sunday afternoon he hosted a ‘She Can Coach’ Match Day Experience where eight aspiring female coaches in Queensland took part in a match day simulation at the Gabba, with the Brisbane Lions taking on Essendon in AFL’s Round 17 clash.
The eight women were divided into two teams and appointed a line, while reporting to a Head Coach. Lions AFLW Coach Craig Starcevich was Head Coach of the Lions while inaugural SUNS AFLW Coach David Lake was Head Coach of the Bombers. The coaching lineup was as follows:
Head Coach: Craig Starcevich
Defence: Shannon Campbell
Midfield: Ash Williamson
Forwards: Charlotte Edmunds
Emerging Coach: Emily Chapman
Mentor: Craig McBrien
Head Coach: David Lake
Midfield: Jen Revell
Forwards: Carynne Robinson
Defence: Lexi Edwards
Emerging Coach: Emily Robinson
Mentor: Barry Gibson
Throughout the day both teams participated in a match day simulation where they would watch what is happening in front of them whilst tracking live statistics. When it came to quarter time and half time breaks, they would then apply their coaching knowledge and perspective and advise how they would instruct their team.
The day then ended with the women taking part in a mock media conference, answering the tough questions like all Head Coaches are expected to do.
Barry said it was a great learning and networking opportunity for all participants.
“We wanted to provide the women with an opportunity to show what a match day experience looks like at the highest level,” he said.
“We could see the women learning to concentrate on their specific line and area, rather than watching the game as a whole unfold.
“It really made them focus on their job on hand and they learned so much from Craig, David and their mentors.
“It’s so important for us to provide these opportunities for our coaches as for many they learn on the job.”
Aspley’s Ash Williamson, assistant coach of the QAFLW, took part in the exercise.
“It was a good learning experience as I haven’t had the pleasure of having so much technology and live statistics available during match day,” Williamson said.
“It was so interesting being able to see how these statistics can inform my decisions a coach.
“For me the most beneficial part of the day was the conversations had with all coaches, mentors and participants in the room.
“I am so grateful for the experienced coaches, Jack and our mentors for being so willing to give their time to help us improve and offer advice.
“Being amongst like-minded women who share similar aspirations was also fantastic.
“One day I hope to take a QAFLW team myself and the big dream would be to go into AFL and AFLW one day.”
July is Women’s Coaching Month, which aims to shine a light on encouraging more women to explore coaching opportunities in our game.
“There’s not many of us out there and you can’t be what you can’t see,” Williamson admitted.
“Women’s Coaching Month helps make It makes it more visible and encourage women to know that it is a possibility for them.”