AFL national female football development manager Jan Cooper was one of 15 women inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame as part of International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations overnight.
The event held at the State Reception Centre at Fraser’s recognised women across a range of sectors, celebrating their diverse set of achievements.
The Floreat resident, who has championed women in football for more than a decade, was instrumental in changing female football from a few small leagues across the country, to launching the national AFL Women’s competition.
Mrs Cooper said while she was honoured to be inducted she believed she had just been doing her job.
“When I viewed the list of previous inductees I was extremely humbled and somewhat embarrassed,” she said.
“I believe I’ve been doing my job whereas many of the inductees have been community changing volunteers.
“I guess my induction speaks more about my determination to persist with what I believed was the right thing to do.”
Doing the “right thing” for the mother-of-two has included working her way through the WAFL at Swan Districts Football Club, promoting the sport to women with the WA Football Commission, working with WA Women’s Football League and being offered her current role at the AFLW.
A trailblazer for women in footy, Mrs Cooper said she was happy to see people finally understanding the role women played in the AFL as well as embrace the women’s league but believed there was still a way to go.
“The support for AFLW has been exceptional but not surprising,” she said.
“The community was ready for AFLW.
“One disappointment is that the best female talent in administration roles have been snapped up, but their replacements in state organisations have reverted to males.
“We didn’t see that being the case and I’m sure over the coming years this will revert to a better balance as females increase their skills and the industry moves to a more inclusive model.
“At AFL clubs the people charged with managing the AFLW football operations are mainly men which is also disappointing given the plethora of talented women working within the industry.”
Mrs Cooper said IWD made her grateful for the privileged life she had been able to lead where she was free of any violence, family support and able to follow her passions in life.
“So many women find themselves in circumstances that make it difficult for them to thrive and showcase their skills,” she said.
“I am really honoured to be part of this induction group and the Hall of Fame overall.
“I have done what I have because I never had the opportunity to play AFL and I was going to make sure no other generation was stifled from doing whatever they wanted to in AFL.
“I am determined to encourage the AFL to change their practices around who the decision makers and influencers are within the industry at all levels – they have to get serious about board and senior management composition and moving to parity in salaries and equity in opportunities to include both genders and all cultural backgrounds.
“I hope my legacy will be that any role at any level of AFL is open to everyone.”
Subiaco-based doctor Betsy Buchanan and Cottesloe Judge Valerie French were also inducted on the night.
About 130 women have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since 2011 when it was launched as part of the IWD centenary.