PLAYERS can swap sporting codes in elite ranks, so why not coaches?
AusCycling's new chief executive officer Marne Fechner, announced on Friday morning, moves fresh from the helm of Netball Australia.
But when it comes to decorated, former Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander applying for North Melbourne's head coaching role, the 'Roos were seemingly too cowardly to explore the idea. Alexander was told she needed more experience.
These sorts of attitudes matter in communities like Ballarat where AFL and football are incredibly influential tools.
This comes in a week when the AFL was one of Australia's five major sporting codes to passionately renew a pledge to greater prevention of violence against women. At the core is respect and opportunity to set the tone in each code from the top to the grassroots.
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan even made clear, despite widespread industry cuts, investment in AFLW would rise. Concerted efforts would also be made to ensure the AFLW finals were not compromised as they had been in the pandemic outbreak.
Female football is booming - Ballarat Football League is a great example of this - and in turn, greater opportunity is strengthening the game's highest levels. We had three Greater Western Victoria Rebels drafted to AFLW ranks this year with great junior football experience and time in a top talent program.
This starts to show and keep pushing a shift in a culture of respect.
This is also far from a new concept.
The late Victorian Minister for Women Fiona Richardson was an incredibly passionate supporter for how equal pay and limelight would do far more than promoted an active lifestyle and pathway for women in sport.
Ms Richardson visited Ballarat for the Matildas pre-Olympic camp in June 2016. She argued a fair and level playing field would set a standard in how society valued women and could play a key role in helping to stop family violence.
Women's sport promotion has changed so much in that time but remains sorely lacking in leadership.
Our Watch chief executive officer Patty Kinnersly, who lives in Ballarat, said the pledge with leading Australian sports was also opportunities for women as board members, other off-field roles and umpires.
This also comes in a week when Wangaratta's Ellyn O'Brien is believed to become the first female club president in the Ovens and Murray Football League's 127-year history.
Ms Kinnersly is on the board at Carlton where retired Hawk and Blue Daniel Harford is AFLW head coach. She told The Courier more women needed to be in roles like this but acknowledged there needed to be stronger pathways and supports.
"If there isn't a woman there yet, what are we doing to support women coming through?" Ms Kinnersly said is question she constantly asks and encourages clubs of all levels to consider.
If there isn't a woman there yet, what are we doing to support women coming through?- Patty Kinnersly, Our Watch chief and Carlton Football Club board member
A bid for diversity, she said, sometimes needed to be made explicit ample.
It is not about reverse discrimination but making sure people know the door is open. Redan did this last year in advertising a senior coaching role for the Lions' male football team.
There was good interest and while not exactly the right fit, the Lions have been considering how to better build pathways, like an apprenticeship-style role.
It is not the only format. Sebastopol A-grade netball coach Georgia Cann has long worked closely with senior football coach Shane Snibson, then Leigh Hutchinson, to bounce coaching and training ideas off each other.
Lisa Alexander was in Ballarat a few years ago for a coaching forum and sharing ideas with then-Ballarat Miners coach Guy Molloy.
Whether Alexander is the right head coach for North Melbourne is ultimately up for the Kangaroos to decide, despite the strong opinions from outsiders that accompany any major AFL role.
What would be the cost for the club to give Alexander an interview and hear her aspirations and perspective, not as a token gesture, but for her high-performance record and proven showing she has in rallying young players.
Alexander has likened the head coach role to that of a CEO with specialists in support.
In modern society, it is no longer good enough to say a woman needs more experience in the game. Female and male supporters deserve far better.
For a club already licking major wounds this was not just a major chance to be bold gone missing, but a default "safety mode" sorely pointing out why we need pledges like that taken by the AFL this week.
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