1 May 2018, Hawthorn Football Club, Melbourne, Australia
I’d like to welcome you all to the Inaugural Hawthorn Women’s Football team. Over the course of the next hour or so, you will get to meet the young women who will make represent our club and I’ve got no doubt you will recognize the same qualities in them that I see every day. Strength, courage, humility, honesty and passion to name a few.
When discussing women’s football, you cannot talk about the game alone. This is a movement, a journey towards equality, a small step in righting the wrongs of the past and an awakening of a powerful entity that will change the way we view our sport forever.
When I took the women’s senior coaching role at Box Hill last year, I was merely taking a job, the next role in a 15 year career. What I found was so much more. Of the 1000’s of coaching jobs all over Australia, I believe I have one of the best and most important. It has become my passion, my inspiration and my joy.
Never before have I been more excited and enthused to get to training on a cold July night. The love and passion these players have for the game is infectious. Their commitment to each other, their willingness to learn and develop and the way in which they tackle each road block standing between them and success, leaves me with nothing but admiration. Put simply, they inspire me each and every day to be a better man.
None of this would have been possible without the bravery and the generosity of the Box Hill Football Club who, along with Geelong, became the first VFL clubs to recognise the importance of inclusion and benefits of involving women at all levels of a football program.
Working closely with senior figures at Hawthorn, the Box Hill Hawks transformed the VFL for ever and made having a women’s program the envy of all other clubs.
This year we fall solely under the Hawthorn banner and have integrated our women’s program into every part of our business, on and off the field. We have developed a program that has surpassed many of the clubs that field an AFLW team and will continue to build on that, each and every year.
We are three teams, one club, and we will use every resource at our club to develop our players, coaches and support staff to be better on the field, in the coach’s box, on the sidelines or in life in general.
As a team we are hell bent in achieving success as a group. We have recruited strongly and strategically. The girls have worked extremely hard since November, and have completed more sessions than any other VFL club in preparation for 2018.
We put no limits on what we can achieve this year and have the finals firmly in our sights, a tough ask with only 4 teams out of 13 getting to compete in September. But we believe our best is good enough and will fight with everything we have to honour this great club.
We have beefed up our coaching department, our football admin, our strength and conditions and welfare departments. We have invested in technology to give the girls the very best our industry has to offer. No stone has been left unturned in ensuring we are successful in the years to come.
It is very important however, that while we chase on field success, we never lose sight of why women’s football matters. We must never lose sight of WHY we do this. While our ladies will be firmly focused on achieving success together, the impact they have in the community cannot be measured in wins and losses.
Our players are acutely aware of why they play this game and who they are playing it for. It is for every young girl in the Eastern suburbs with a dream. It is for every young Hawthorn supporter that has been told they can’t fulfil their passion in life because of their gender. It is for every young woman that needs help find a way forward, to find resilience from within and it is for every woman that has been neglected, mistreated or marginalised and needs the type of support only a good sporting club offers.
It is important that we continue to offer pathways for aspiring female talent in footy operations, in coaching, strength and conditioning. It is important that young men see these women being successful in these positions and influencing football in the years to come.
It is important for our community to see these strong, powerful, independent, career minded women as the role models they are. That they inspire other women to be the best they can be without fear of being labelled.
It is important that the Hawthorn Football Club continues to be a leader in this space. That we acknowledge WHY we are on this journey, that what we are doing matters, and that we continue to strive for equality, diversity and inclusion above all else.
Tonight ladies, you will receive your first Hawthorn jumper. It is a privilege and an honour to put this jumper on. And with that jumper comes a number, rich in history and worn by some of the games greats.
From Matthews to Mew, Brereton to Buckanara, Crimmins to Crawford, from Hudson to Hodge, each number comes with a story, most with a premiership and all with the blood, sweat and tears of the past. Tonight you will become custodians of that number, recipients of the jumper and the newest members of the family that is Hawthorn.
Remember always, that each and every day, we must earn the right to be part of this great club.
I thank you all for being here tonight to launch season 2018 and looking forward to getting to know you more as the year unfolds. A special thank you to our corporate partners who have displayed the courage to invest in women’s footy, you truly are making a difference to your community and should be applauded for it.
Lastly, I want to thank the parents, partners and friends. Without you in our lives, and the support you offer, this venture would be pointless. Regardless of how old be get, or how independent we think we are, we all in some way or another are just trying to make mum and dad proud. Hopefully we achieve that this year.
Thank you for your support and go Hawks!!