With the AFL launching the inaugural National Women’s League in 2017, GWS have announced Tim Schmidt as the franchises head coach. The former Sydney Swans player, born in South Australia, brings with him a wealth of experience at the academy and high performance coaching level, and is the right fit to create an environment that stimulates learning and development.
The signing of Schmidt, along with marquee players Renee Forth and Emma Swanson, was announced at a press conference a fortnight ago, and Schmidt was good enough to speak with Western News about the season ahead. Quizzed on whether coaching came naturally to him, Schmidt opened up on his personal experiences and identified the challenges that await him.
“It definitely hasn’t sort of come naturally (coaching). I guess throughout my playing days we did the healthy choices program, which involved going out to schools, so it was a lot of development stuff more than anything. Once I finished playing I worked with the Swans Academy, and then progressed from there. I’ve definitely built on it and having mentors such as my old housemate Tadhg Kennelly, who is involved with AFL NSW, has been a massive help and I’m just learning along the way.” He continued.
“A lot of the girls actually haven’t been in an elite environment before, so I guess it’s good being involved in that, being able to pass on the information. I feel the biggest thing will be educating the players on why we do things and not necessarily how we do it.”
The National Women’s League will operate a draft style system in October to fill the remaining 23 positions for each team. Two additional rookies that haven’t played the sport will also be signed to each franchise. Schmidt’s understanding is his talent will come locally, but the details are yet to be confirmed.
“We’ll obviously have a look at what talent we’ve got here, being NSW and the ACT. My understanding is most of the players will be from here but until the AFL sort out how that all looks it’s a bit hard to tell at the moment.”
In another positive for the newly formed side, the women’s team will be sharing facilities with the men’s side over the pre season, an added feature that has Schmidt excited.
“ I think that’s one of the massive qualities we have here is obviously the facility out here is fantastic and it’s great to be able to utilise all of it. We’ll work closely with the men, they’re normally 8am-4pm, so again we’re waiting to hear from the AFL and AFL players association on what the actual preseason and training load looks like, but we’ll work with them, but make sure the spaces aren’t overloaded.”
In the coming weeks and months Schmidt and his team will appoint assistant coaches to get the girls firing come competition time. The eight round format is an exciting step in the right direction for women’s sport in Australia, with broadcast details still in the discussion stages.