AFL creates ’18 Collingwoods’ telling clubs to back end contracts

The league has begun visiting and briefing clubs about the cut to the salary cap and has told clubs it was up to them how they got under the salary cap and that they should back end contracts to fit under the cap next year.

Collingwood this year underwent an aggressive trade period in large part to address salary cap issues that were created by constantly back-ending contracts.

They dumped more than $2milion out of their salary cap for next year by trading out Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson and Tom Phillips.

Former Magpie Adam Treloar.Credit:Getty Images

“The advice from the AFL is to just back-end contracts to get under the cap. Fine. We will have 18 Collingwoods next year with everyone forced to push the problem down the road,” said one list manager who wanted to remain anonymous.

“We have worked for years to get our cap under control and keep it under control – as have other clubs – and the AFL advice is to blow it up again.

“We traded in good faith for draft picks that we may not be able to use because they announced these cuts after the trade period and the reality is we may not be able to bring in as many players.”

The AFL has told clubs that a player cutting their salary by 8.5 per cent next year can recoup 5 per cent of that cut the following year when the salary cap is hoped to normalise back to the pre-COVID levels.

One list manager said it was misleading to say reduced list sizes off-set the size of the salary cap cut.

While the reduced salary cap is spread among fewer players the clubs say it is only the lowest-paid players who were cut from lists and so the clubs’ players wage bill only reduced by about $80,000 per player.

The league has mandated new draftee’s wages will be cut by 10 per cent.

“The AFLPA was representing the players but who was the AFL representing? It wasn’t the clubs,” one club list manager said.

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Bendigo Pioneers’ Jack Ginnivan hoping for a double celebration of birthday and AFL club selection

He tried to make the most of the situation, working to build up his body with weights and running plenty. But when it came to playing footy, all he could do for a while was have a kick with a mate who lives 10 minutes away.

“The strength side was pretty easy with my mate. The actual works on the game was a little bit challenging,” Ginnivan said.

Bendigo’s Jack Ginnivan (with ball in hand) hopes for a double celebration on December 9.

But he is back training with his local club Strathfieldsaye and will be able to do a bit of work with the Bendigo Pioneers ahead of the draft.

“I get to train with some people that I hardly ever get to,” he said of training at Strathfieldsaye.


“Pioneers starts on Sunday so it’s good just to get those couple of sessions in before Pioneers starts and then we’ll get right into it.”

With AFL list sizes cut and having been denied the opportunity to stake his claim, Ginnivan is mindful that things mightn’t go his way on draft night.

“[I’m] pretty nervous at the moment. A lot of the year I was focusing on football, school was playing a little bit of second fiddle. But whatever happens on the night happens and you’ve just got to move on if it doesn’t work.”

He is mates with Port Adelaide’s Kane Farrell and North Melbourne’s Flynn Perez – both fellow Bendigo products – the latter of whom is advising him simply to keep working hard. He has also been counselled by Bailey Henderson, another ex-Pioneers player who missed out in the draft a few years ago and has since played with Richmond’s VFL side.


Henderson has urged him to “make sure you have that ‘plan B’ so you can adapt if it doesn’t happen.”

Ginnivan made headlines six years ago when he kicked 119 goals in a season for Newstead in a team coached by his father Craig.

Jack reflects proudly on that feat, which Craig made sure only got so far.

“It’s a pretty cool thing. Dad kicked 128 one year so he didn’t want me to break that so in the last couple of games he always used to chuck me in the backline. It wasn’t great!”

Other than training, preparing to get his driver’s licence and seeing his girlfriend Christijana, who he hasn’t seen much of lately while she’s been focusing on trying to get into a university law course, Ginnivan has taken some shifts as a lifeguard to fill his time over the coming weeks now that his year 12 exams are finished at Bendigo Senior Secondary College.

He’s also heading down to Melbourne this week for a combined Vic Metro and Vic Country training session; the last chance for Victorian talent to show their wares to AFL recruiters before the draft.

Away from football he’s eyeing a career as a policeman.

“Me and my mum used to watch a lot of crime shows when I was younger. I’ve always watched that and thought it was pretty cool. My cricket coach is a cop [too],” Ginnivan said.

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The AFL draft prospect who stopped potential top pick Logan McDonald

West Australian draft prospect Denver Grainger-Barras says he took the points when he lined up on potential number one pick Logan McDonald earlier this season.

Speaking on SEN Afternoons on Friday, the key defender from WAFL club Swan Districts, who talent scout Kevin Sheehan has likened to West Coast’s Jeremy McGovern, says he went to McDonald to shut him down after the key forward talent had a big first half.

“I tried to not let it get to me too much in the week leading up to the game,” Grainger-Barras said.

“Logan had started the game off amazing. He kicked three goals in the first half, so I was given the job at half-time to play on Logan which I was super excited to get to play on him and do that role for the team.

“We had a pre-season practice match against (McDonald’s WAFL club) Perth, and they were getting stuck into me the whole team very vocally and physically, so I knew it was going to be a challenging match.”

Grainger-Barras, who is tipped by many to be a top five pick in the upcoming draft, said his coaches instructions were clear.

“I was given a really strict role to go and stop Logan, but at the same time to play my game and impact through the air and I feel like I kept that balance really well,” Grainger-Barras said.

“I kept Logan without a goal in the second half and I took some really good marks and some big intercepts in the second half as well.”

The Swans would go on to defeat McDonald’s Perth side by 27 points, with Grainger-Barras ending the match with 16 disposals, eight marks and the points over his fellow draft mate.

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Premiership player signs with fourth AFL club

Premiership player Jacob Townsend has been handed an AFL lifeline by Gold Coast, according to The Age.

The former Giant, Tiger and Bomber will likely land at his fourth club, with the Suns reportedly opting to sign him as a delisted free agent.

The 27-year-old was most recently at Essendon, where he played 12 games in 2020 before being told he wouldn’t be offered a contract by the club for 2021.

Townsend kicked 16 goals in five games for Richmond in 2017, including two in the Grand Final win over Adelaide and 11 in the final two games of the regular season.

The popular forward will add depth to Stuart Dew’s side and will likely compete with Alex Sexton, Darcy Macpherson and Ben Ainsworth for a senior spot.

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Kevin Sheehan’s top 40 AFL Draft prospects

AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan has released his top 40 draft prospects ahead of the 2020 AFL Draft on December 9.

“From nearly 1000 nominations for the NAB AFL Draft from clubs across the nation, I’ve settled on my top 40 prospects for what will be the 35th NAB AFL National Draft. An integral part of our AFL competition and its competitive balance across all 18 clubs,” Sheehan said in a statement.

“We look forward to celebrating the best of the best from around Australia on NAB AFL Draft Night.”

Below is Sheehan’s top 40 draft prospects in the 2020 AFL Draft:

Ryan Angwin

Gippsland Power, NAB League / Foster FC
Height: 184cm
Weight: 72kg
Weapon: Ability to find space and create
Player comparison: Christian Salem, Melbourne

Sam Berry

Gippsland Power, NAB League / Maffra FC / Melbourne Grammar
Height: 181cm
Weight: 80kg
Weapon: Contested ball winning
Player comparison: Josh Dunkley, Western Bulldogs

Jake Bowey

Sandringham Dragons, NAB League / Highett FC
Height: 175cm
Weight: 67 kg
Weapon: Field kicking on right and left
Player comparison: Shai Bolton, Richmond

Tanner Bruhn

Geelong Falcons, NAB League / Newtown FC / Geelong Grammar
Height: 183cm
Weight: 74kg
Weapon: Decision making and composure
Player comparison: Taylor Adams, Collingwood

Braeden Campbell

Sydney Swans Academy / Westbrook / Pennant Hills / Allies
Height: 181cm
Weight: 75kg
Weapon: Dynamic left foot
Player comparison: Michael Walters, Fremantle

Jack Carroll

East Fremantle, WAFL / Geraldton
Height: 187cm
Weight: 76kg
Weapon: Footy Nous- speed and run and carry
Player comparison: Josh Kelly, GWS GIANTS

Heath Chapman

West Perth, WAFL / Joondalup-Kinross FC
Height: 192cm
Weight: 81kg
Weapon: Aerial strength and rebound
Player comparison: Jordan Ridley, Essendon

Blake Coleman

Brisbane Lions Academy / Morningside
Height: 180cm
Weight: 79kg
Weapon: Aerial ability and goal sense
Player comparison: Liam Ryan, West Coast Eagles

Sam Collins

Tasmanian Devils, NAB League / North Hobart FC
Height: 187cm
Weight: 82kg
Weapon: Intercept marking
Player comparison: Brad Sheppard, West Coast Eagles

Brayden Cook

South Adelaide, SANFL / Happy Valley FC
Height: 189cm
Weight: 80 kg
Weapon: Innate goal sense
Player comparison: Alex Sexton, Gold Coast SUNS

Nik Cox

Northern Knights, NAB League / Montmorency FC / Ivanhoe Grammar
Height: 200cm
Weight: 87kg
Weapon: Athletic ability and versatility
Player comparison: Marc Blicavs, Geelong

Alex Davies

Gold Coast Academy / Cairns Saints / Broadbeach Cats
Height: 192cm
Weight: 85kg
Weapon: Clean hands around stoppages
Player comparison: Patrick Cripps, Carlton

Connor Downie

Eastern Rangers, NAB League / Vermont FC
Height: 185cm
Weight: 82kg
Weapon: Explosive speed and raking left foot
Player comparison: Bachar Houli, Richmond

Luke Edwards

Glenelg, SANFL / Henley HS
Height: 188cm
Weight: 83kg
Weapon: Composure and ball use
Player comparison: Andrew Brayshaw, Fremantle

Eddie Ford

Western Jets, NAB League / Yarraville-Seddon FC
Height: 189cm
Weight: 84kg
Weapon: Aerial skills and innate goal sense
Player comparison: Jack Gunston, Hawthorn

Denver Grainger-Barras

Swan Districts, WAFL / Kalamunda FC
Height: 194m
Weight: 78kg
Weapon: Intercept marking
Player comparison: Jeremy McGovern, West Coast Eagles

Errol Gulden

Sydney Swans Academy / Maroubra Saints FC / Allies
Height: 175cm
Weight: 75kg
Weapon: Game sense and relentless running
Player comparison: Andrew Gaff, West Coast Eagles

Oliver Henry

Geelong Falcons, NAB League / St Marys FC / St Joseph’s College
Height: 188cm
Weight: 77kg
Weapon: Aerial skills
Player comparison: Jeremy Howe, Collingwood

Elijah Hollands

Murray Bushrangers, NAB League / Wodonga FC
Height: 189cm
Weight: 85kg
Weapon: Innate goal sense and step through traffic
Player comparison: Jordon De Goey, Collingwood

Joel Jeffery

Wanderers, NTFL / GCS Academy / Allies
Height: 192cm
Weight: 80kg
Weapon: Intercept marking
Player comparison: Tom Stewart, Geelong

Lachie Jones

WWT, SANFL / Bute Paskville FC
Height: 186cm
Weight: 89kg
Weapon: Contested ball winner
Player comparison: Tom Jonas, Port Adelaide

Brodie Lake

Southern Districts, NTFL / Central Districts, SANFL
Height: 185cm
Weight: 79kg
Weapon: Speed and game sense
Player comparison: Hugh McCluggage, Brisbane

Bailey Laurie

Oakleigh Chargers, NAB League / Beverley Hills / Caufield Grammar
Height: 179cm
Weight: 78kg
Weapon: High footy IQ
Player comparison: Brent Daniels, GWS GIANTS

Finlay Macrae

Oakleigh Chargers, NAB League / Xavier College
Height: 186cm
Weight: 78kg
Weapon: Composure and ball use
Player comparison: David Zaharakis , Essendon

Zavier Maher

Murray Bushrangers, NAB League / Shepparton Bears FC / Caulfield Grammar
Height: 185cm
Weight: 82kg
Weapon: Burst from stoppage
Player comparison: Luke Shuey, West Coast Eagles

Reef McInnes

Oakleigh Chargers, NAB League / Surrey Park FC / Scotch College
Height: 193cm
Weight: 86kg
Weapon: Versatility and athleticism
Player comparison: Jarrod Berry, Brisbane Lions

Logan McDonald

Perth FC, WAFL / Aquinas College
Height: 196cm
Weight: 86kg
Weapon: Overhead marking and repeat efforts
Player comparison: Jack Riewoldt, Richmond

Carter Michael

Brisbane Lions Academy / Maroochydore FC
Height: 188cm
Weight: 74kg
Weapon: Dynamic left foot kick and pace
Player comparison: Daniel Rich, Brisbane Lions

Shannon Neale

South Fremantle, WAFL / Leeming SHS
Height: 202cm
Weight: 91kg
Weapon: Rare athleticism
Player comparison: Rhys Stanley, Geelong

Nathan O’Driscoll

Perth, WAFL / Northern Saints FC
Height: 188cm
Weight: 79kg
Weapon: Ball winning ability
Player comparison: Dom Sheed, West Coast Eagles

Archie Perkins

Sandringham Dragons, NAB League / Brighton Grammar
Height: 188cm
Weight: 79kg
Weapon: X-factor overhead and power
Player comparison: Tim Taranto, GWS GIANTS

Will Phillips

Oakleigh Chargers, NAB League / Beverley Hills JFC / Caulfield Grammar
Height: 180cm
Weight: 80kg
Weapon: Footy smarts and athletic ability
Player comparison: Lachie Neale, Brisbane Lions

Caleb Poulter

WWT Eagles, SANFL / Ardrossan FC
Height: 192cm
Weight: 79kg
Weapon: Footy IQ
Player comparison: Dyson Heppell, Essendon

Tom Powell

Sturt, SANFL / Scotch College
Height: 183cm
Weight: 74kg
Weapon: Clean hands and vision
Player comparison: Tom Mitchell, Hawthorn

Zac Reid

Gippsland Power, NAB League / Leongatha FC
Height: 202cm
Weight: 83kg
Weapon: Overhead marking and absolute reach
Player comparison: Harris Andrews, Brisbane

Conor Stone

Oakleigh Chargers, NAB League / St Kevin’s College
Height: 189cm
Weight: 83kg
Weapon: Versatile type who takes game on
Player comparison: Callum Mills, Sydney

Riley Thilthorpe

West Adelaide FC, SANFL / Goodwood Saints FC
Height: 201cm
Weight: 100kg
Weapon: Contested marking
Player comparison: Tom Lynch, Richmond

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Oakleigh Chargers / South Warrnambool FC
Height: 195cm
Weight: 90kg
Weapon: Innate goal sense and athleticism
Player comparison: Lance Franklin, Sydney Swans

Brandon Walker

East Fremantle, WAFL / Kardinya Kats FC
Height: 183cm
Weight: 75kg
Weapon: Dazzling speed
Player comparison: Jason Johannisen, Western Bulldogs

Henry Walsh

Geelong Falcons, NAB League / St Marys FC / St Joseph’s College
Height: 203cm
Weight: 87kg
Weapon: Elite reach in ruck and marking contests
Player comparison: Ivan Soldo, Richmond

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Hawthorn chasing state money for AFL base

Hawthorn expect the Victorian government will chip in for the club’s new $100 million headquarters despite president Jeff Kennett’s ongoing stoush with Premier Daniel Andrews.

On Thursday, the Hawks welcomed $15 million in federal government funding for the project, which will begin next year.

The club will contribute “in excess” of $30 million to the project, which will include administration, elite training and community facilities.

But Kennett believes his criticism of the Andrews government’s bungled hotel quarantine system has cost the club funding.

The outspoken Hawks president told News Corp the state government was “playing politics” at the expense of the Dingley community in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.

Four rival AFL clubs have received funding commitments from the state government over the past week.

Hawthorn chief executive Justin Reeves said the club is still working with all levels of government on the project.

“As we stand here today, we don’t have a firm commitment from the state government, but that relationship is really strong,” Reeves said.

“We feel like they’ll be a participant in this project at some stage and hopefully before too long.”

The Hawks’ Kennedy Community Centre – named after club legend John Kennedy Snr, who died in June – will include a base for the club’s administration, as well as its men’s and women’s football programs.

The women’s oval and accompanying pavilion will be key planks in the Hawks’ bid for an AFLW licence.

“It’s been something that we’ve been passionate about for some time and we’ve been working closely with the AFL to make sure that Hawthorn has an AFLW team sooner rather than later,” Reeves said.

“It’s really important for the whole Hawthorn family.

“We expect that we’ll be in the AFLW before long and that we’ll have the best facilities for an AFLW program.”

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David King calls for AFL to close list lodgement loophole in 2021

AFL list lodgement closed on Wednesday, with the impacts of reduced list sizes forcing teams to move veteran players onto their rookie lists in order to save spots and money.

The likes of Eddie Betts, Grant Birchall, Shane Mumford, Jarrod Harbrow, Mark Hutchings, Matthew Kennedy and more have been moved to the rookie list by their respective teams.

David King, who last week anticipated this scenario playing out, believes this loophole needs to be closed as it goes against the spirit of the rookie list.

“The rookie list should be for players who haven’t played the game and that are a speculative pick and the reason why the rookie list was brought in was clubs didn’t want to take a punt on someone at $85,000 or $90,000 a year back in those days,” King told SEN Breakfast.

“So they subsidised it, they made it a half-pay type of arrangement. So the rookies were asked to do less during the week. ‘Keep your job, keep your university or whatever it is and we’ll give you $45,000 to earn some opportunities at senior football’.

“It was an outrageous success. Players like Dean Cox and those sorts of guys who would take the risk.

“You can’t have it now as a facility to hide another spot for your list and that’s what it has become.

“If that’s what it is, then that’s what it is, but let’s not call it the rookie list.”

King believes teams should simply have to let the additional player go if the rookie list is the only alternative.

“If we didn’t have it, you’d have to delist someone to keep Eddie Betts on your list,” he said.

“There’s only a certain amount of spots. They’re basically using the rookie list spots for senior level experienced players and that’s not correct.

“And by the way it’s not the club’s fault here. Credit to Carlton and West Coast and GWS and Brisbane and all those teams, credit to them. Right now you’re able to do that and be subsidised to the tune of $80,000 per player as well, let’s not forget that.

“It doesn’t sit well with me that Birchall after winning four flags with the Hawks and is now seen as a rookie list player.”

“Why don’t we just not have it and force the clubs to manage their own lists.

“If you’ve run your list so tight that this one shift is going to cost someone a position, well so be it. Make your decision on that player.

“2020 has been a different year and maybe we just have to live with this one. Everyone’s losing players off every list this year, maybe this is the time to give some flexibility, but let’s put a line through this in 2021.”

The AFL’s delisted free agency window opens on Thursday.

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AFL 2020: Zach Merrett cricket game for Cobden, Essendon star blasts century, Mortlake

Not only can Zach Merrett accumulate the disposals, he can also rack up the runs.

A Division 3 team from the Mortlake Cricket Club experienced that first-hand on the weekend when the Essendon AFL star blasted a century in a breathtaking cameo performance with the bat.

Merrett on Saturday returned to his home town of Cobden, where he inspired his local team to a thumping C-grade win at Cobden Technical School in the South West Cricket Association.

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Grand Final

Batting first, Cobden was comfortably placed at 3-84 in the 40-overs-per-side clash when No. 5 Merrett strolled to the crease and joined captain Josh Fagan.

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Demon Kolodjashnij retires from AFL at 25

Melbourne defender Kade Kolodjashnij is focusing on the insect repellent industry after concussion forced him into an early AFL retirement.

The 25-year-old played just two games for the Demons in 2019 and was unable to take the field this year.

The No.5 pick from the 2013 national draft played 78 games for the Gold Coast before he was traded to the Demons at the end of 2018.

His last game at AFL level was in round three, 2019.

“It’s disappointing it has turned out like this,” Kolodjashnij said.

“I think coming into the AFL system you don’t expect to be retiring at 25 years old, but I have been fortunate enough to be at two great clubs.

“Unfortunately concussion got the better of me over the last four years or so.”

Kolodjashnij says he has overcome his concussion symptoms and is now running his own business alongside his brother, focusing on natural insect repellent.

“I am back in a pretty good place now – I am exercising and feeling good physically and mentally,” Kolodjashnij said.

“During my football career, Jake and I invested in a family business which specialises in natural insect repellent.

“It’s going really well at the moment and we have been operating and trading for about 12 months now.”

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Bec Goddard headlines Hawthorn’s all-female coaching panel for VFLW team the Hawks, setting new benchmark for women’s AFL

The Hawthorn Football Club has set an AFLW benchmark today without even having a women’s team in the elite competition.

The club has announced an all-female coaching panel for its VFLW team, the Hawks, spearheaded by Bec Goddard, who coached the Adelaide Crows to the first-ever AFLW premiership in 2017.

Hawthorn is paying more than lip service to the need to develop coaches who are female and who can coach teams across the gender divide in the future.

Of the 14 AFLW teams currently in the competition, only one has a female coach — St Kilda’s Peta Searle— while in the VFLW, there are five.

Joining Goddard are assistant coaches Christina Polatajko and Hayley Gregory alongside development coaches Lou Wotton, Natasha Beck and Steph Carroll.

Club president Jeff Kennett says it is not about “gender-based recognition”.

“I don’t like the term ‘breaking a ceiling’ because they’ve earned their position based on merit.

“But I do think it’s wonderful as we move towards equality in sport, people are given the opportunity based on their professionalism, based on their enthusiasm, based on their qualifications to get the opportunities Bec and the team are getting.”

Bec Goddard (centre) headlines an all-female coaching panel for the Hawks, which Hawthorn says has been chosen on competency and professionalism.(AAP: Dan Peled)

Goddard told The Ticket: “It’s a really significant announcement.”

“I’ve been thinking a lot during COVID about one day when they put me in the ground, how will I be remembered in footy and what contribution did I make?” she said.

“And I really wanted it to be more than just the 14 games of AFLW that I coached, I really wanted to be able to start to open doors for women coming through and to have a powerful football club like Hawthorn back this, and actually have this initiative, to be brave, and have such overt leadership, I think it’s really, really important.”

During the COVID-19 shutdown, VFLW coaching staff lost their jobs but Goddard says that sparked a conversation that has led to the club committing to invest in the future of the women’s game.

“All of the women’s coaching staff had their contracts terminated, there was no competition, so we couldn’t stay on staff and during that time I was able to start having conversations with the CEO Justin Reeves about what the future of football looks like at Hawthorn,” she said.

“It became really clear that women were a really big piece of that and not just in the playing role — if you want to be the CEO, you can be the CEO, you want to be the head of comms, you can be the head of comms, you want to be a coach then we’ve got those leadership positions available to you.”

Hawthorn chief executive Justin Reeves said he was not going to let 2020 put a handbrake on the VFLW program.

“In the current industry climate, there is a significant gap in the development pathways available to female coaches,” he said.

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

Women in catch-22 over experience required to fill coaching positions

Despite having instant success as a coach in the inaugural AFLW season, Goddard struggled to find other coaching positions as she confronted all-too-common difficulties of juggling the need for a full-time job to support her part-time coaching position.

“I think there are a number of barriers that are in the way for women in coaching in the AFL and the first one of those is it’s still a part-time competition,” she said.

“None of the athletes are full time and therefore a lot of the coaches are not either.

“I simply couldn’t stay in Adelaide for another year as well as manage my full-time employment, and that was the priority.

“So I left and I suppose I’ve been trying to get back into the industry, I believe I have a lot to offer in coaching and I’ve ended up at Hawthorn where I feel really valued … I feel like they’re really innovative in the way they’re treating their women’s program.”

Adelaide Crows celebrate with the inaugural AFLW trophy
Bec Goddard coached the Adelaide Crows to the inaugural AFLW premiership in 2017.(AAP: Dan Peled)

Women at all levels of sport are in a perpetual catch-22, being constantly told they do not have the experience required for vacant positions yet being unable to get the experience to start with.

“I had some feedback provided to me once, ‘Oh well, you haven’t played 200 games of AFL and you don’t have a direct relationship with an AFL head coach, I have empathy for you because you won’t be able to coach in the industry’,” Goddard said.

“And to me, that should just not be a blocker. When we look at merit and what we want in a coach there should be nothing that immediately rules out such an important part of our community.

“There’s just no diversity and it needed to change … I mean, there is no timeframe on diversity but there is a timeframe on the door being shut.”

The club president agrees.

“At Hawthorn it’s not always about games played, it’s about an individual’s character, it’s about their knowledge, it’s about their enthusiasm,” Kennett said.

“For any job at all I don’t look for the person who’s played the most games, who’s got the most degrees, I look for the people that have sufficient knowledge, passion, enthusiasm and values that they’re going to seize this opportunity and grow it.

Kennett was ‘turned upside-down’ for prediction about women in footy

Asked when Hawthorn might have an AFLW team, Kennett says, “You’ll have to ask Gil McLachlan that cause I’ve asked him many, many times, but you know what? The AFL are like a socialist organisation and perhaps because we are operating on a commercial basis … we are not part of the mould of a typical AFL club at the moment, I’m sorry to say, but you’ll keep that to yourself, won’t you?”

He says as one of the unassisted clubs during the COVID-19 pandemic, not needing bailouts from the AFL, Hawthorn is one of the best placed to have an AFLW team.

“We will put in whatever is necessary to be successful, we will do our best,” he said.

“It won’t necessarily win a premiership in either division, but the bigger test to me is the quality of the people that we have, how they feel as part of the Hawthorn family and where we can encourage them while they are with us to prepare for life after football.”

A man in a suit stands with his arms folded among Hawthorn players.
Jeff Kennett says he does not rule out the possibility of a men’s AFL team being coached by a woman in future.(AAP: Julian Smith)

And does he ever see the day when the best coach to guide the men’s team is a woman?

“Some years ago when I was first the president of Hawthorn I made what was considered then to be an outrageous comment — that I wanted to be the first AFL male’s club to have a female player,” he said.

“I was hoo-haa’d, boo-haa’d, turned upside-down, attacked, etc … I actually think it’s possible one day that a female will play in a men’s side.

“And the reason I said it then is not only because I’ve always supported the opportunities for people regardless of gender but because in order to survive you’ve got to be commercially alive.

“Things have changed, and things are changing, so no, I don’t rule that out at all.”

Goddard is hoping she’s at the right place at the right time and the AFL allows Hawthorn to field an AFLW team in 2022.

“I’ve really changed my views about how many teams we should have in the comp … initially I was really worried about the competition expanding too quickly and what the product would look like to get the fans and sponsors on board but we’ve gone well beyond that,” she said.

“We’ve got the fans, sponsors are coming on board, people want to watch women’s sport on TV, they want to hear about it, they want to read about it in the newspapers, and if all of the AFL clubs want a licence now, the talent is there and I think we can do it.”

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