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Hood happy with Cats' AFLW preparations

Sarah Black - AFL Media  November 6, 2017 11:07 AM

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Cats VFLW coach Paul Hood

GEELONG may not be entering the NAB AFL Women's competition until 2019, but plans are well underway to make that transition as smooth as possible. 

The Cats fielded a side in the VFL Women's league this year, with the team boasting Melbourne AFLW duo Lily Mithen and Richelle Cranston (along with recently drafted Demon Anna Teague), and will do so again in 2018. 

Coach Paul Hood has been involved with Geelong for a number of years, leading the club’s VFL men's side in 2014-15, spending 2016 in player development and this year taking on the challenge of blooding the brand new VFLW side.

"It's going to be an advantage for us to watch two seasons of AFLW before we come into the competition," Hood said. 

"Clearly, we'll be behind the eight-ball as far as experience goes when the side runs out, but it's great to see the lay of the land a bit, see who does things well and if we can borrow a few ideas. 

"It's certainly great for us to have two full seasons with a lot of our squad before they run out and play AFLW, to work with them and help them improve."

A former Geelong VFL player, Hood also spent a number of years leading the Geelong Falcons in the TAC Cup, but described this year as his most enjoyable as a coach.

"It was a bit of a perfect storm really, with the new facilities and a new bunch of players. Making those sorts of connections was terrific for everyone at the footy club," he said.

"The women's footy landscape was new to a lot of us working in it, so we had a great time at all the different VFLW grounds. Every week was a new adventure."

North Melbourne, the other AFLW entrant in 2019, has already appointed a senior coach in Scott Gowans. Hood is considered the logical appointment for the Cats' AFLW role, but he said the club was in no hurry. 

"It's not set in stone, so we'll wait and see. We're not planning on employing anyone else at this stage, we'll just wait and see how the next 12 months goes.

"But certainly, we're preparing this squad and I'm planning to coach them for a little while yet." 

Hood is one of three keynote speakers, alongside psychologist Matti Clements and Collingwood dietician Emily Walker, at a sold-out female football coaching forum on November 12 at Ikon Park in Melbourne. 

The development of the AFLW competition has seen female participation numbers explode around the country. In Geelong, Hood said senior women's teams were expected to increase from two to 12 next year, while the number of youth girls' sides will almost triple, from 21 to nearly 60.

Hood said he found one of the biggest differences between coaching men and women was the female players' desire for more feedback.

"The other thing is the inclusiveness of the female footy population. With the men's VFL team, all the guys warm up and then it's really serious; they put their headphones on and they're doing their own thing.

"In a women's team, there are no headphones, there's just one big set of Bluetooth speakers and everyone dances to the same song in a warm-up," Hood said.

"It's a real metaphor for the way women play the game. They're all in together, and it's great fun to be part of."