FROM black and white to navy blue, outgoing Swan Districts women’s coach Nicole Graves leaves her 12-year legacy of developing young footballers at Bassendean Oval for Carlton Football Club this week.
The Guildford resident will be returning home to Victoria after serving as a coach and V Swans academy manager and helping the club win several premierships including a treble across seniors, reserves and youth girls in 2017.
During her career, Graves has also led the women’s AFL International Rules team and coached the Western Bulldogs in an AFL women’s exhibition match.
Graves, also a Carlton supporter, will be overseeing the women’s football program, alongside AFL women’s coach Daniel Harford and AFL head of football Andrew McKay, as well as working in the multicultural areas of Melbourne’s northern corridor.
She will coach her last game for Swans on July 7 against Perth Angels before former premiership captain Kara Donnellan takes over for the remainder of the WA Women’s Football League season along with her role as V Swans manager.
Graves said she would miss the friendships and the relationship with parents.
“The engagement of our parents and our kids into the club a few years ago with the youth girls has been a highlight for me, watching those girls come up and now play senior footy,” she said.
“We have had the first of those girls start to come up over the last couple of years with Emily McGuire and Taylah McAuliffe both drafted and now we have got another five that have come up this year in the state 18s.
“I want to thank the Swan Districts Football Club for their support both on and off the field in my career and obviously as a coach.”
Graves said it would be an interesting transition from Swans to the Blues.
“Melbourne has changed a lot in over a decade as well – more cars, more people in the city,” she said.
“My first job is to actually fly to the Gold Coast and we will do some talent ID (identification) at the state 18s girls national championships.
“The hardest is not being involved in the development of WA female footy but as I’ve said, hopefully I can provide some opportunities over in the east coast for some of the young West Australians.”