Published on October 31, 2017 4:22 pm

2016 Peta Searle Female Coach of the Year winner Cherie O'Neill. PHOTO: Bendigo Advertiser

2017 Female C.O.T.Y nominees

Four outstanding women remain in the running for the 2017 Peta Searle Female Coach of the Year award which will be presented at a gala dinner on Friday November 3. Mitch Wynd reports.

The prestigious award is one of seven that will be handed out with winners also to be crowned in the NAB AFL Auskick, Junior, Youth, Senior, Umpire Coaches and Lifetime Achievement categories.

See below for a brief summary on each of the four 2017 Peta Searle Female Coach of the Year finalists:


JORJA DANIEL (Finley Wildcats Youth Girls)

Jorja organises training and plans for matches despite fluctuating numbers at her club due to geography, external commitments, and injury. She is quick to highlight the positives of a players’ match rather than dwell on the negatives, creating a very positive environment. With a background in Australian Football representing her primary and high schools at state level, she has plenty of knowledge to pass onto her young team. Thanks to their coach’s attitude and personality, players are not shy about speaking up in the huddle, and are confident to approach her. Jorja certainly has a future in the development of women’s football in country Victoria.


ALICIA DREW (South Warrnambool FNC)

Alicia puts a strong focus on the fundamental skills of the game, as believes that the more complicated drills can wait until the basics are properly honed. Training sessions are enjoyable for the players, but not a walk in the park either. Match-day messages are encouraging and constructive, but Alicia’s mantra on the team coming first is echoed above all others. Alicia is mindful of her players and is keen to know about their wellbeing in terms of injury or matters outside football. Such is the popularity of Alicia and her methods that low numbers at training and matches are very rare indeed.


JO RUTHERFORD (Monbulk Juniors)

Jo helped start Monbulk’s girls team from scratch, such is her passion for the development of women’s and girls’ football. Starting with approx 12 girls, the team has grown to include 20 keen players who pull on the boots each week.  Being an inaugural season for the team, getting her players hooked on the game and developing the basic skills was key. Each week, the enthusiasm on display from Jo and the girls was proof that the creation of the team was a success.


JANE LANGE (Darebin Falcons)

Jane navigates the Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s league with a calm and clear focus, keeping team rules and individual roles as a priority over the final outcome. She always comes into a game prepared with opposition information. Being a former player of the club means that she knows and understands what the club expects, and strives to demonstrate the Darebin’s values. Her expert guidance has led to 15 Darebin players being picked for the inaugural AFLW league, and cemented the club’s reputation as one of female football’s most powerful forces.




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