Hawthorn is set to enter an exciting phase of its AFLW journey when its inaugural Women's Academy commences this weekend.
The club announced last week that it would be launching its W Academy this Saturday, with the program to include six sessions of skill development, player mentoring and education.
Speaking on SEN's Sporting Capital on Monday, Hawks GM – Operations & Major Projects Josh Vanderloo said the club was excited to begin working with some talented, young players.
"We want to build a competitive and talented list of players and it all starts with our AFLW Academy which kicks off this weekend," Vanderloo said.
"We would've been up and running probably three months ago, after we were granted a licence, but lockdown didn't allow us to do so, so we start now.
"We hope they get some development out of it, that's one objective, and the other is that we get to look at them and start that list build process. If it means we can sign a few of them sooner, rather than later, then even better."
The academy will see 50 players join the program, aged 16 to 23 years of age, having been nominated by their NAB league regions or VFLW programs.
The sessions will be led by Hawthorn’s VFLW coaches, including the newly-appointed VFLW Senior Coach Cherie O’Neill, as well as an assortment of past AFLW players.
It was announced in August that Hawthorn, along with Essendon, Sydney and Port Adelaide would be joining the AFLW competition in Season 7, set to commence at the end of next year.
Hawthorn has been involved in the VFLW for the last five years, and has since built a strong and successful program which is currently led by an all-female VFLW coaching unit.
10 players who have come through the Hawks VFLW program have ended up on AFLW lists throughout that time.
Vanderloo said building its list and coaching team to support AFLW Senior Coach Bec Goddard was the club's current focus.
"While we've had a VFLW team, at a national-level we're really going from a boys-only club to be going co-ed going forward," he said.
"We'll be going from a club of 45 players to 75, so that's really exciting for everyone involved.
"We're setting ourselves up for success - and we think an integrated football department with people working across both the men's and women's will be best for us.
"By September next year we'll kick off with our first training session, and hopefully by December at the end of the year we'll be playing our first game."
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