THOSE who think football is a man’s world should meet AFL national female football development manager Jan Cooper.
The former assistant head trainer of the Swan Districts Football Club has been paving the way for women in the sport for years and is now preparing for an eight-team national Women’s AFL competition next year.
The mother-of-two, whose role is to increase female participation and talent pathways, including events such as the Youth Girls National Championships, began her career in football at Swan Districts.
She has since worked with the WA Football Commission and the WA Women’s Football League. Last year she was named AFL Woman of the Year and took part in the Grand Final motorcade – a first for women in the sport.
A trailblazer for women in footy, Cooper said she was now happy to see people finally getting the role women played in the AFL.
Since starting 10 years ago, Cooper has seen the number of women and girls involved in the sport jump from 16,000 to 284,000 last year.
“You can see the wheel has changed over time,” she said.
“I’d been involved in a household that was immersed entirely in football and I’d followed my brothers and my dad (Swan Districts Football Club legend John Cooper) who were all involved in football.
“I had this rich football history but there wasn’t a pathway for me.”
Today on International Women’s Day , a day she believes should be celebrated every day, Cooper looks to several role models, including men, to inspire her to make even more change.
“I have so many role models – they’re not all women either – and I think we should be mindful of showcasing women role models on a daily basis, not just on International Women’s Day,” she said.