16/04/2024

Hawthorn AFLW coach Bec Goddard and her star recruits. (Photo: Hawthorn/ Supplied)

Bec Goddard and the Hawthorn Football club have pulled off a massive win for the club, signing Season Six League Best and Fairest Emily Bates and All-Australian Greta Bodey.

The signings come as the AFL introduced the Priority Signing Period where the four season seven expansion sides had the opportunity to sign players without having to trade. With the aim to fast-track the development of Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Essendon, and Sydney.

Hawthorn coach Bec Goddard spoke to the media on Friday and said the opportunity to present big-name players like Bates and Bodey with vision and meet with players that have already signed makes recruiting that little bit easier this time around.

“I think when we first started a year ago, we had nothing to show we didn’t have any tape to show we didn’t have any talent that we could really sell to established players in the competition and where this competition is at, it needs to grow and get bigger so women can earn more and be the best athletes that they want,” Goddard said.

 “Every competition in the world wants competitive balance, I have zero interest in keeping women small and the decision that these two have made is one that I think in 20 years we’ll look back on.

“Yes, it’s great for Hawthorn but also it’s going to change the face of the competition. We can’t just keep the same small groups together and have the top four be the same top four forever.

“For the future of where this competition wants to go, we need it to grow.”

Greta Bodey and Emily Bates in Hawthorn colours for the first time. (Photo: Hawthorn/Supplied)

The additions of Bodey and Bates will be strong ones into the Hawthorn lineup, with Goddard saying that the pair were two players they had in mind when the club first got their licence.

“From a list management perspective, we’ve had a clear vision of what we want to achieve with our women’s football program and Greta and Em are two really important pieces of that and they’ve always been in our vision, right from when we got the licence about whether that one day might consider playing for Hawthorn,” she said.

“I think the way we want to move the ball really suits someone with Greta’s talents, we want to be really ferocious and offensive and really appeal to the fans.

“I love the idea of one day kicking 12 goals a game and making that a regular occurrence in AFLW. I think that’s an exciting thing because if you kick 12 goals, the opposition is going to kick 13 to beat you.

“So I want to be able to appeal to fans with that, with the way we move the ball and Greta fits into that really perfectly.

“‘Em’ (Bates), well her credentials speak for themselves. Prolific ball winner, a champion in her own right. We’ve got what we think is an exciting midfield in ‘Jas’ (Jasmine) Fleming and Charlotte Baskaran as well as Tilly Lucas-Rodd who is forging her own path in the competition and the addition of Em to that really makes a very strong midfield.

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For Bates, while it was hard to have those conversations with her former Brisbane teammates about her decision, they knew that it was time for her to put herself out of her comfort zone.

“It was really hard, but I was happy to have those conversations because I wanted them to obviously hear it from me and not see it on social media and whatnot,” Bates said.

“So, it was really nice to speak to my teammates and everyone was really understanding and it’s actually exciting for me and just seeing me grow in different ways. I think so much as a player I always put myself outside of my comfort zone physically, but this is a time that I can do that as a person.

“So, I think they will see that and they’re just excited to see me grow.”

What drew Bates over the line was to come in and shape what is a young and exciting group and be able to be the one to give those young midfielders like Fleming and Baskaran that bit of guidance to take their games to the next level.

“I think just the way the list is in a really exciting position like they’re really young, talented girls and I think they just need that bit of help and guidance to show them the way to elite standards to what it takes to build a successful team and culture,” Bates said.

“So, I think being able to be part of the process to help build that here was really appealing. So, I think that’s what got us over the line.”

For Bodey, the things that won her over were very similar to Bates, with the chance to step outside her comfort zone as well as grow her leadership skills.

“Obviously [it was a] very difficult decision to leave the Lions, [I] loved everything about the club but I think it’s [the move to Hawthorn] about putting myself outside of my comfort zone, trying to grow not only as a footballer but also as a person,” Bodey said.

“I think I’ve got a great opportunity to do that down here with such a young and exciting list. I think it’s going to work my leadership skills among other things, so really excited to be here.

The Priority Signing Period will run until next Wednesday the 8th of March before the AFLW Sign and Trade Period kicks off on the 10th of March.

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