Bec Goddard is an Aussie Rules Football coach in Australia. Aussie Rules Football is Australia’s biggest sport which isn’t played professionally in any other country. ?There are over 7 million attendances at AFL games in one season with millions more playing the game. The game is governed by the AFL (Australian Football League) and involves 2 teams of 18 players battling it out with a rugby shaped ball on an oval pitch. To learn more about Aussie Rules, CLICK HERE
Bec Goddard is only the third woman behind Peta Searle and Michelle Cowan to work within the AFL structure. After winning ‘Football Woman of the Year’ in October of this year she has ambitions of going all the way to the top and one day be a paid professional within the AFL’s top league.
The FCN caught up with Bec not long after winning her award as she explains her journey into footy and her ambitions for coaching her beloved sport.
What is the current situation like with female coaches in your sport?
It’s a massive growth area. I’ve noticed particularly in Victoria and Western Australia there are more women developing and getting opportunities at higher levels. Other states and territories need to help foster the few women that are already involved and develop them so they can encourage, mentor and be role models to others so we can catch up to the powerful states.
It is rumoured that their may be a national AFL league starting in 2017, is this something you would like to be a part of and do you see this as a necessity to not only move the women?s game forward but also the number of women involved in coaching and leadership roles?
It is absolutely a necessity and almost a surprise that it’s taken so long. The talent for such a competition has been steadily growing for years and it’s great to see such positive commentary around a national competition. All other major sporting codes have one- why shouldn’t we
I’m sure there will be a number of elite coaches who will want to be a part of the inaugural season and I would love to be considered by a club for such a role.
Can you tell us about your own journey into footy, did you play as a child and how did you become a coach?
My footy journey began as a kid watching my dad play for the Belconnen Football Club in Canberra. Back then I was bribed with a sausage sandwich to run the scoreboard at Jamison Oval (always getting the score wrong), but that’s where I first fell in love with footy. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I became a goal umpire of men’s football at the persuasion of my cousin, Rachel Miller who was breaking ground herself as a female umpiring men?s football.? In 1999, I started playing in the women’s competition in Canberra which was really in it’s infancy then, moved to Melbourne with work and joined the mighty Melbourne Uni Mugars (MUWFC) before returning to Canberra where my footy career ended after I badly broke my shin. After healing, I started to seriously run, did a half marathon and became committed to field umpiring at a high level. In 2009, I field umpired my first state league game which was probably the highlight of my entire footy career to date, mostly because it took so many years and such physical and emotional hard work to do it. My body eventually broke down and after four knee operations I retired from umpiring and turned my energy towards coaching which is where I am now.
How do you manage to juggle your work commitments alongside your commitments as a coach. Do your roles ever clash, has your career stopped you from attending training or a match?
I am a police woman- a Federal Agent with the Australian Federal Police. I am extremely lucky to work for an organisation that promotes such a positive work life balance. There have been occasions where I’ve been late to training or missed a game because I have a job on, but that’s the life of any full-time professional who volunteers in sport. I find footy a great distraction from sometimes the more serious side of work. I also love the unpredictability of both parts of my life- I never know what?s going to happen at work and I never know what’s going to happen at footy, but always train and plan to be the best I can in both fields.
What are you most passionate about being a coach?
I’m passionate about having a positive impact on anyone I come across- this applies to footy and life. I remember coaching an under 18s youth girls team a few years back now. We had a team motto of DO RIGHT. This meant that no matter where we were at any given time, we’d always try and do the right thing for each other on and off the field. I also gave them their own tennis ball with their name on it which they had to carry with them at all times (good for continual skills aside from anything else)- I’d prefer a tennis ball in the hand than a mobile phone which for teenage girls is hard to pry from their fingers.
Congratulations on your recent award of ?Football Woman of the Year?. Can you tell us about this award and how important do you think it is for women to be recognised in this way?
Ummmm wow, it really was such a special day, thanks for the congratulations. I think the Award has a really important place, if for no other reason than to create discussion around what’s happening with women?s participation in AFL. It would be great to be a in a place where we don’t need award ceremonies to acknowledge the everyday work of so many women in our sport- but rather just treat them equally like their male counterparts.
What are your ultimate coaching aspirations for the future?
I want to coach at the highest level I can. I’d love to be full time, paid to be involved in footy. But at this time, it remains my favourite hobby.
What do you feel are your biggest challenges to achieving these aspirations?
My age ahahahahahaha! Look, I’m not that old, but seriously, there are a lot of young, up and coming female coaches who we now have great pathways for to be the best. They’ll get there and maybe I’ll just have to consider becoming a commentator instead.]