'Not a token gesture': Bega Bombers appoint trio of female coaches

Joining the Bega Bombers coaching staff for 2019 are Carlin Stanford, Kaela Barnes and Celine Conrad.
Joining the Bega Bombers coaching staff for 2019 are Carlin Stanford, Kaela Barnes and Celine Conrad.

Given the way the Bega Bombers are developing, it was "only natural" the family-focused Aussie rules club would appoint three female coaches this season.

Club president Stephen Nicol said the Bombers will field sides in all junior divisions as well as the women's competition in the Sapphire Coast AFL. The league offers mixed sex competitions in under 10, 12 and 14 age groups.

Kaela Barnes, Celine Conrad and Carlin Stanford have all gained AFL coaching qualifications and will work as co-coaches across those three age groups this year.

Stanford is coach of the under 14s as well as captain of the women's team. However, her role at the club reaches even wider.

"It’s not a question of the women coaching the girls and the men coaching the boys. It really is horses for courses," said Nicol.

"Carlin brings her former military experience. We use her to conduct the warm up and warm down exercises for the entire playing group. It just makes sense.

"It’s not just a token gesture. We’re seeing more and more young women come to play the game and they bring a different attitude.

"It’s only sensible to have coaches who can capture that attitude."

Stanford said she initially went along to a Bega Bombers recruitment call-out for women on the request of Nicol "to make up the numbers".

"Initially I just was going to train, not play. I've played a bunch of other sports, never AFL," Stanford said.

"But tossing the ball around and having a kick, the camaraderie that comes with team sport kicked in."

MIXING IT UP: Under 14s coach Carlin Stanford offers some advice to Rafe Turville at a Bombers training session.

MIXING IT UP: Under 14s coach Carlin Stanford offers some advice to Rafe Turville at a Bombers training session.

Along with her fellow coaches, Barnes and Conrad included, Stanford is motivated to make sure children and women have a love of football as well as respect for each other.

"Modern football coaching is as much about people skills [as playing]," she said.

"It's what will separate us from other sports as these kids grow up and go on to play AFLW and AFL."

Both Stanford and Nicol emphasised the "family club" focus fostered by the Bombers.

"This year in particular we’ve seen whole families - parents and children of both sexes - join the club," Nicol said.

"Obviously they’re taking advantage of the fact that all of the family can travel together and play together at the weekend. Sport has become the family thing."

(Two of those are Stanford's own daughters, netballers who went along to training...and stayed.)

The Bombers train Tuesdays and Thursdays at Roy Howard Field (under the Bega Bridge) from 4pm.

At the moment it's pre-season fitness and "scratch matches" to get everyone ready for the competition proper, which starts in April.

New faces and families are always welcome.

Masters take the field

Bega Bombers junior coach and women's captain Carlin Stanford added another feather to her cap on the weekend.

Stanford and her Vic Country team-mates defeated Vic Metro during the ground-breaking AFLW Masters contest at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne on Saturday, March 9.

The Masters showcase was played as a curtain raiser to an AFLW double header.

Although wearing the Vic Country strip, the side comprised women aged over 35 from several states.

One of whom Stanford said wrote an advertisement in the Melbourne papers in 1979 calling out for female players - "she was pivotal in getting women involved in the sport", which is now capturing widespread attention with its national competition.

Comments