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Wood becomes part of Geelong Cats history

Natalie Wood has become part of Geelong Cats history, the first female coach to be appointed to a full-time role with the club Natalie Wood has accepted a full time role as assistant coach of the AFLW side as well as head coach of the VFLW in 2019

Natalie Wood has become part of Geelong Cats history, the first female coach to be appointed to a full-time role with the club.

Wood will become assistant coach of the Cats AFLW side in 2019 as well as VFLW head coach. Her role will also see her undertake work in the club’s Next Gen Academy.

Wood’s successful 16-year football career included 190 games and premierships with the Darebin Falcons and Melbourne University.

Wood played for the Western Bulldogs in the AFL Women’s exhibition matches in 2013 and 2014, was a 10-time state representative in the AFL Women’s National Championships and a three-time All-Australian before retiring at the end of 2014.

Her journey to the Geelong Cats began in 2016 when she joined the club as assistant coach of the Cats VFLW side alongside senior coach Paul Hood.

Wood was an assistant coach of the AFLW Under 18 Allstars game in 2017 and an assistant coach with Vic Country in the AFL Women’s Under 18 National Championships throughout 2018.

Wood admits that on arriving at the club in 2016, she never contemplated the possibility of the full-time role that has now come to fruition.

“I was just really keen to get back into football and get back around it. But since being involved, I’ve been incredibly impressed by the way the club operates, it’s a super collaborative and inclusive environment here,” Wood said.

“I couldn’t help but find ways to become more and more involved, to keep learning and developing myself as a coach but also keep developing the players as well.”

Wood admits the decision to leave her secondary teaching profession was a big step, but in the end the opportunity put forward by the Cats was too good to refuse.

“Now to have that opportunity, and to weigh up leaving my current profession, I went through a few pros and cons. When you break it down and think about the fact someone is prepared to offer you a full-time job in women’s footy, it’s a no-brainer.

“There’s a lot of transferable skills not only from the teaching and learning aspect, but from the leadership aspect, the curriculum is just different.”

Geelong’s Women’s Football Strategy & Pathways Manager Simone Bellears is thrilled to have Natalie on board in a full-time capacity.

“Natalie’s leadership and enthusiasm to support our bid for an AFLW licence and the investment she has shown in our players and our club from day one have been outstanding,” Bellears said.

“Her experience as a player, her knowledge of the game and the great rapport she has with our playing group make her the fantastic coach she is. We are delighted to see Natalie commit to a full-time role and contribute to football pathways within our Women’s Football and Next Gen Academy programs.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs