People coaching footy, let’s use that lens

Posted on - Latest News, Premier Men's, Featured, St Bernards

Aasta O’Connor doesn’t see her position in the St Bernard’s coaching team as “that big of a deal” and believes it’s time that we change the lense around how the community views women taking up coaching roles in the men’s department. 

After announcing her retirement from her AFLW career in March of 2021 and some time away from football, O’Connor was contacted by her Western Bulldogs 2018 Premiership coach Paul Groves about joining the Snowdogs coaching team working in with the young backline the club is building. 

Aasta becomes the first woman in the history of St Bernard’s to take up an official role on the coaching panel, speaking on the VAFA’s Saturday Warm-Up she says it’s time to change the language around appointments like hers “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, footy is footy, the game is the game regardless of what gender you’re coaching” 

As Women’s Footy continues to grow year-on-year, a male coaching the women’s team hasn’t garnered the same level of attention as it does when the shoe is on the other foot. 

“It does seem groundbreaking that a woman is coaching in the men’s comp, but if we keep viewing it like that and we keep thinking it’s a big deal, that might deter other females, it’s not a big deal that men coach women’s footy” O’Connor continued. 

O’Connor would like to see us view the participants of the game at all levels as “people coaching footy” and implored clubs to encourage women who are showing the potential to coach the next generation to step into available roles and put their hand up for future coaching positions. 

That won’t happen if we continue to look at positions like O’Connor’s as “groundbreaking”. 

The VAFA Women’s competition exploded onto the scene in 2018 and has grown significantly year-on-year. On the field, participation numbers are strong. It will be interesting to monitor how the landscape of Women’s footy looks in 12 months time with 4 new expansion sides coming into the AFLW further drawing on the talent pool across Australia, the VFLW and in our case, the VAFA. 

Having now been at the club since day one of the pre-season, O’Connor has thoroughly enjoyed her time at the Snakepit “it’s a fantastic club to be part of, I felt that as soon as I came down. The way in which the club has embraced me has been fantastic.. to come into a club like St Bernard’s has been positive for me” 

The Snowdogs will be looking to get back on the winners list this Saturday afternoon when they host Old Scotch at the Snakepit at 2pm.