Emma Zielke has said that she believes initiatives like the BHP Women’s Coaching Academy are vital in establishing the pathway that will eventually see women become commonplace as coaches in AFL and AFLW programs.

Speaking to Andy Maher and Andrew Gaze on SEN Melbourne last Thursday on the BHP Academy, the Brisbane Lions AFLW Assistant Coach said these programs play a critical role in setting the next generation of coaches up for success.

“There’s obviously the conversation around the lack of female coaches in the AFLW, but you do have to let it grow,” Zielke said.

“Those girls that are still playing, they’re the ones that are going to be your next generation of coaches.

“So it’s about getting them into these programs early so that when they do finish, like myself, we can transition into that coaching role…you’ve got the tools there in front of you and you’re ready to go into those positions.”

“I think there’s going to be a lot of women over the next couple of years that should be able to get qualified enough, especially with the programs we’ve got now like the BHP Academy, to get that key experience.

“They’ve just got to have organisations willing to put their hand up to say ‘No, we want to be a Club that is inclusive of everyone and we want to give opportunity to everyone’.”

Zielke was announced last week as one of eight women selected to participate in the 2022 Academy, designed to provide professional development for women in the coaching pathway.

The program will see the Premiership Captain and seven others, including fellow former Lions midfielder Lauren Arnell, undertake their National AFL Level 3 Coaching Accreditation and receive mentoring support from Adelaide Crows AFLW Premiership Coach Bec Godard and inaugural St Kilda AFLW Coach, Peta Searle.

“It’s a fantastic investment and commitment by BHP,”

“I suppose it’s really aimed to accelerate the next generation of female coaches and creating those legitimate coaching pathways for us to get those Senior roles or Assistant roles, like some of us already have at the moment.

“It’s a bit of a game changer for us and I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”