Burger nominated for the AFL’s Women in Football Talent Program

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The AFL has introduced a newly created Women in Football Talent Program, designed to accelerate women’s participation and progression into key leadership roles within club football departments in the AFL Men’s competition.

Coach of Kew in the VAFA Women’s Competition Jess Burger has been announced as one of five women from AFL clubs to be selected for the program. 

  • Jess Burger, AFLW Head of Women’s Football & AFLW List Manager/Performance Analyst, Collingwood
  • Kate Mahony, Executive General Manager – AFLW, Sydney Swans
  • Michelle Cowan, Head of Women’s Football, West Coast Eagles
  • Juliet Haslam, Head of AFLW, Port Adelaide
  • Sophia Samartzis, Competition Operations Manager – AFL

The program has been designed to increase the representation of women within AFL men’s football departments, establish a strong pipeline of women and continue to build on the participant’s technical skills, knowledge, and capabilities in the areas of football operations.

The six-month pilot commenced on 24 November 2022, with the AFL Men’s Draft being the first immersion experience for participants. The program is delivered in a blended learning format with participants able to gain practical experience through industry immersion, online learning, and mentoring from key subject matter experts from both the AFL and its clubs.

The Women’s Coaching Acceleration Program expedites the development of the industry’s best women coaches and increases the number of women in coaching roles across men’s and women’s programs at the community level, across state leagues, in the AFL and AFLW.

Burger joined Collingwood as a performance analyst in 2016, since then she has played a crucial role in leading football operations and strategy for the Club’s women’s football programs.

In 2018, she was appointed as the Club’s AFLW List Manager before moving into the Head of Women’s Football role in late 2021.

Additionally, the 29-year-old is a member of the AFLW Competition Committee which assists the AFL Commission surrounding all aspects of the women’s game.

Collingwood’s Acting CEO and General Manager of Football Graham Wright said the Club is thrilled with Burger’s selection in the program.  

“This is a well-deserved opportunity for Jess’ professional development but will also allow her to showcase her knowledge and experience of the football industry,” Wright said.

“The Women in Football Talent Program will play an important role in increasing female representation within football departments by allowing talented women like Jess the opportunity to build key relationships, skills and expertise in the industry and will create a direct pathway for women into leadership positions.”

“We look forward to seeing Jess continue to develop and grow through the support of this new program.”

Burger said she was grateful to be presented with the opportunity to take part in such a unique program.

“I would like to thank the AFL for the nomination for the Women in Football Talent Program and would also like to thank the Club for their support in allowing me to pursue this opportunity,” Burger said.

“This program offers a unique hands-on approach that will nurture our professional development. I look forward to furthering my knowledge and craft through top level exposure to scenarios that arise across the football landscape.

“I feel very fortunate to be involved in the first program of this kind and am looking forward to what the remainder of the program has in store.”

This acknowledgement caps off a stellar year for Burger who was awarded the VAFA Women’s Coach of the Year award at the recently held AGM, as well as guiding Kew into the William Buck Premier Women’s Grand Final against St Kevin’s.