27/05/2024

Leah Kaslar (centre) with the Adelaide AFLW assistant coaching panel. (Photo: Adelaide FC)

Mid-week, Leah Kaslar is teaching the young Crows as their development coach, but on the weekend, she'll be lining up against them in SANFLW Round 1.

Leah Kaslar’s unceremonious delisting from the Gold Coast Suns came as a shock to many in the AFLW world.

The inaugural Lion was a staple of the competition, setting the standard from defence with her lockdown work and huge footy IQ. Looking at Brisbane’s elite backline now, it’s not a stretch to say that Kaslar is partly responsible for what it has become.

Such was her standing in football in Queensland that she was appointed one of two inaugural co-captains of Gold Coast, alongside Sam Virgo.

After being delisted by the club she helped to build, Kaslar took a risky next step and made the move interstate, joining both the Adelaide Crows and Woodville-West Torrens.

By AFLW day, she’s a development coach, learning off ‘Doc’ Clarke and his team of assistants while helping to impart the knowledge from her football journey onto the youngsters. But by SANFLW night, she’s set to moonlight as a player once again.

With 36 games of AFLW experience under her belt, Kaslar’s next step is one that didn’t come without plenty of thought.

“It… was really tough leaving the Suns,” Kaslar told The Inner Sanctum.

“I’d invested a lot there, and I really wanted the opportunity after a really tough year to go out and do better. That was difficult to take.

“In terms of actually going to the Crows, it feels a bit separate. After I finished up with the Suns it was a bit later that I got in touch with the Crows and got this opportunity.

“When I left the Suns, I wasn’t really quite finished yet in football. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to coach, or which direction I was able to go in. This offered an opportunity to be able come here and develop in that area. The club’s really welcomed me and made me feel really valued.

“It’s a lot to turn your life upside down and move interstate, but these opportunities only come up once. You’ve got to take them.”

More Aussie Rules News

Choosing South Australia, and the Crows and the Eagles specifically, came down to the flexibility the clubs offered Kaslar.

While some days are busier than others, going between multiple training sessions with two different groups, the “extended pre-season” has kept her fitness levels higher than ever.

Her role doesn’t extend to matchdays with Adelaide, meaning in cases like this weekend where it travels to Victoria to face off against Carlton, Kaslar can focus just on preparing for Saturday’s first up SANFLW clash with Sturt.

Striking the balance has been a slow learning process over the past five months, but one that the people around her have helped make immensely easier.

“To be honest I was a bit nervous when I came [to South Australia],” Kaslar admitted.

“Doing a few different roles… [with the Crows and Eagles]. Doc [Clarke] has been really good with helping me know when I’m expected me to be in what role. He’s really supportive to get the best out of me in my coaching and playing.

“During training I might do both coaching and training. For a few drills I might be working with Jack [Hombsch, head of AFLW development], taking players aside. Then I might jump into a few drills during the session.

“It gives me the fitness and personal development for myself to be successful when I play.

“The Eagles train Monday, Wednesday, Friday as well [as the Crows] which makes it difficult to get there as often as I’d like, but across they pre-season they’ve done Saturdays in place of Fridays.”

Woodville-West Torrens’ Round 1 side. (Photo: WWTFC)

Taking on the playing and coaching role will give Kaslar the unique position of being to play both with and against the players on the fringes at the Crows.

McKenzie Dowrick is one of those, having signed on as a replacement player in the pre-season in place of Deni Varnhagen.

Similarly, fellow AFLW-listed Crows Zoe Prowse and Jasmyn Hewett will be lining up for the Double Blues.

“It does kind of give you that insight,” Kaslar said.

“It is a pretty unique perspective, and you can set an example in what you do. If you’re running alongside them from a fitness perspective you can demand more from each other. It’s pretty unique.

“I guess it’s part of what attracted me here to do the role as well. I thought it would be pretty fulfilling and a good way to help other people progress.”

The Eagles and Double Blues open their SANFLW season on Saturday, February 5 at 3:25pm ACDT.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

About Author

Leave a Reply