Bec Goddard will lead the Hawks when they join the AFLW for the 2022/23 season. (Photo: Hawthorn FC)

Inaugural Hawthorn AFLW coach Bec Goddard is proudly leading the now 'whole' club into a new era of women's footy.

Thursday, August 12 marked a significant day for the AFLW competition, with the final four teams granted licenses for the 2023 season and beyond, meaning the AFLW will span across all 18 top level sides.

One of those four teams to join is Hawthorn, who had first applied for a license in 2019. It has since become one of the leading clubs when it comes to women’s footy.

The Hawks were granted a VFLW license in 2017, originally operating under the Box Hill moniker.

Within just a season under the guidance of coach Paddy Hill, they become premiers of the competition. This was followed by a strong influx of draftees from the side making their way into the AFLW in the two next drafts.

The Inner Sanctum spoke to Hawthorn’s Inaugural AFLW coach Bec Goddard on the road to the AFLW, and what it means to the club.

2021 was Goddard’s first season at the helm of Hawthorn’s VFLW team, and her and her team aimed to replicate an AFLW environment.

“It was fantastic to be a part of a club that was on a journey to enter the AFLW,” Goddard told The Inner Sanctum.

“What we did was tried to implement our structure and our planning and involvement and inclusiveness at the club like we would if we were an AFLW program.

“It was just a very professional outfit and we wanted to give our players the best environment that we could to train and succeed.”

“It was a really enjoyable season.”

With the Hawks joining the competition in 2023, it allows for all Hawthorn fans to grow up aspiring to pull on that brown and gold jumper.

“It makes the club a whole,” Goddard said.

“Little girls, their families and their grandfathers and grandmas have grown up supporting Hawthorn, now they can play for Hawthorn as well.

“Before… only little boys could have that dream, and now little girls can have that dream as well to play at Hawthorn, the club that their family loves and is a part and has been a part of for a hundred years.

“It was quite an emotional announcement, the family’s whole, it was so great for our fans.

“On a more personal level I’ve grown up a Hawthorn supporter and named my beagle Crawford, that was how much I loved Hawthorn.

“It was a dream come true… to be back coaching and leading the inaugural Hawthorn AFLW side, just unbelievable and something I never thought it would happen.”

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In 2021, Hawthorn had an all female coaching panel in the VFLW. Goddard said that the club is committed to opening doors for females in coaching.

“I don’t think we need to define what roles need to be headed up by women and what roles need to be headed up by men, but we deliberately had a focus on developing female coaches,” she said.

“Aside from me being passionate about it, Hawthorn recognises there is a stark [difference] in equality in our industry about who holds these roles.

“We want to be able to open doors for women to be able to come through at Hawthorn and have that career view, I can be anything at Hawthorn it dosen’t just have to be as a player.

“It can be more then that, so that’s really what the intention of our VFLW panel was, to open some more doors.

“Hopefully as the years go on we can get more women through the doors in these roles and we can fill those spots higher up in the high performance train.”

Hawthorn’s all female VFLW coaching panel. (Photo: Hawthorn FC)

It was only a few hours after it was announced that Hawthorn will join the competition that Goddard was going to be the head coach. It’s a role she never thought she’d return to.

“It’s great, there’s obviously been a bit of work go in since I’ve left Adelaide, I was never sure that I would be back coaching in the AFLW to be honest,” she said.

“Just to have Hawthorn value me and see what I can bring to the footy club and announce me straight away as the head coach, it just really shows to me how much they value women at the club, and that will flow on within our football program as well.”

Since Goddard took up the VFLW head coaching role at Hawthorn there have been a few vacant positions within the AFLW, but it was never going to be anyone else.

“I felt really invested at Hawthorn, especially once we got a VFLW season away,” she said.

”What the intention was then ramping out with our pitch and our lead in more aggressively in wanting to win that license.

“I felt very much entrenched in the footy club, and knew that I wanted to be there. I knew that it was a place for me to grow as a coach too.”

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