Hawthorn will become the first AFL club in VFLW/AFLW history to field an all-female coaching panel, after today announcing that all positions within its VFLW coaching structure will be held by women.

With only one female head coach across the entire AFLW competition and five across the VFLW, Hawthorn identified the need to develop more female coaches.

The Hawks’ VFLW coaching panel will be headed up by Senior Coach Bec Goddard, Assistant Coaches Christina Polatajko and Hayley Gregory with Lou Wotton, Natasha Beck and Steph Carroll coming on board as Development coaches.

The history-making coaching line-up features women with both significant football and coaching experience.

Hawthorn CEO Justin Reeves highlighted how proud the club was of its new coaching line-up and the future direction of the VFLW Hawks.

“While 2020 placed a serious handbrake on our VFLW program, the club decided that it would not let these obstacles hamper the future plans of our VFLW, and in the coming years, AFLW programs,” said Reeves.

“In the current industry climate, there is a significant gap in the development pathways available to female coaches and in our discussions, it became clear that if nothing changed then we’d continue to find ourselves looking for top end female coaching talent and be unable to find.

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

“This is undoubtedly the right decision for our club and for our game. We are committed to growing women’s participation in sport across all levels and the time to make significant change and lasting impact is now.”

Hawthorn VFLW Coach Bec Goddard emphasised the importance of industry leaders taking overt action. 

“A healthy attitude about what women can achieve is contagious and to be a part of a club that wants to be a carrier of that attitude is fantastic,” said Goddard.

“Overt action is the key to getting diversity in roles across the AFL and it takes brave leadership to make bold moves like this.

“This coaching panel combined with Hawthorn’s support, is kicking down the door to these opportunities so others can walk through them.”

“I’m so excited for young, inspiring and current AFL players to see what these women can do and I am confident that under this new model at Hawthorn these women will now get their moment to shine and others will follow in their footsteps.”

Goddard will be joined at the Hawks in 2021 by Christina Polatajko who has crossed from Carlton and will take on responsibility of the forward line. Polatajko brings an impressive resume to the Hawks with 15 years coaching experience and having taken home the Female Coach of the Year Award at the 2019 AFL Victoria Community Football Awards.

Hayley Gregory returns as an Assistant Coach and will take the reins of the defensive line. Gregory has been with the VFLW Hawks since its inception, beginning her coaching career as a Development Coach. Her background in teaching is evident in her reputation as a strong educator and ability to build powerful relationships with players.

Steph Carroll also continues as Development Coach and will be joined by former Hawks teammate Lou Wotton and Natasha Beck who joins Hawthorn from the Dandenong Stingrays.