Hawthorn VFLW Assistant Coach Christina Polatajko has been awarded the prestigious 2021 AFL Coaches Association Women’s Coaching Pathway Scholarship.
Working closely with Head Coach Bec Goddard, Polatajko currently looks after the defensive line. Her expertise garnered from six years of coaching, as well as her day job as a physical education teacher, has made her invaluable to the coaching team.
With a strong emphasis on connecting with players to bring out their best, Polatajko is a popular member of the coaching staff. Her skills as an educator are a great asset especially when working with the younger players in the team. She is highly respected for her talent in player development.
Prior to working with Hawthorn, Polatajko was with Carlton’s VFLW team. She also has been coaching the Victoria University Western Spurs for the last five years, where she has won two premierships and was appointed Director of Coaching in 2019.
This scholarship recognises not only her sizeable past experience but also her potential for growth in a male-dominated field.
Goddard, who chose Polatajko for her all-female coaching staff for the 2021 VFLW season, was thrilled to hear the news about her friend and colleague.
“We’re really proud of Christina winning the scholarship," Goddard said.
"She’ll put her best foot forward and representing Hawthorn is a fantastic opportunity.”
The development of coaches like Polatajko is instrumental in the building of not only Hawthorn’s women’s program, but also the wider football community. Goddard emphasised Hawthorn’s commitment to women’s football, and their entrance to the AFLW in coming years.
“There are currently no female coaches in the AFLW,” Goddard said.
“That’s not acceptable to me, and shouldn’t be acceptable to the industry. We’ve got some really great women coaching.”
The AFL Coaches Association Women’s Coaching Pathway Scholarship was launched at the beginning of 2019, to facilitate the growth of players and coaches and fast-track their development.
Polatajko will receive up-skilling opportunities through the 2021 scholarship, with professional development, coaching courses, and mentoring with Hawthorn Assistant Coach Brendon Bolton.
The growth in expertise in Hawthorn’s VFLW coaching team puts them in a very competitive position coming into the 2022 season, and beyond as they join the AFLW.