The Queensland contingent of this month’s Women’s Draft match has been boosted, with the inclusion of Zillmere coach, Jacob Simmons-Bliss to assist with the Western Bulldogs.
A premiership coach with Yeronga, Simmons-Bliss has steered Zillmere to an undefeated record through six rounds of the QWAFL and said he was excited to take the next step.
“It’s a really humbling opportunity and I’m absolutely thrilled to join the coaching staff and work in a high performance environment,” he said.
The Women’s Exhibition match, to be played at Etihad Stadium on June 29, has been lauded for its promotion of a player pathway, but Simmons-Bliss said the coaches relished the opportunity to shine on the big stage just as much.
“It’s obviously all about the girls getting that high performance experience but coaches also get a week in the inner sanctum of an AFL club,” he said.
“It’s an absolutely rare opportunity to work within an AFL organisation and a fantastic chance to up skill as a coach.
With a national women’s competition earmarked for 2020, Simmons-Bliss said the draft match would lay a crucial foundation for players and coaches in female football.
“We need to be ready for six years’ time and make sure that coaches are ready to step into that high quality competition,” he said.
Simmons-Bliss joins the Darling Downs’ Jeff Neumann at the Western Bulldogs, which he says is a credit to the strong female football culture in the state.
“I believe the programs AFL Queensland have are quite formidable and they’re really focusing on the pathway for people who have worked their way up to get that exposure and personal development,” he said.
“Jeff’s a great example of that and it’s pleasing to see that it’s not just traditional footy states that are being represented and that Queensland is at the forefront of this.”
Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs women’s teams will clash on June 29, the second straight year of the match.