PLENTY going on. 

Following an intensive pre-season camp, AFLW Senior Coach Mathew Buck is feeling optimistic as the season fast approaches. 

For the last few months, players have been plying their trade alongside the VFLW program, with many taking turns to feature on game day. 

Buck has used this crossover to strongly align the two programs, developing his player's needs through the second-tier competition. 

“We started late February, started doing some training with the VFLW program, played some players through there throughout the season, help them improve in different areas,” Buck said. 

“I believe you get better by playing games, and we don’t play enough games in the AFLW season, so to put our players in the VFLW season makes sense to me.” 

Having Glenn Strachan working closely with both teams makes the transition easier Buck said, who has been able to transfer the game plan and structure to the VFLW given his role also as AFLW senior assistant coach.


In doing this, the coaching group can assure their players are honing their craft to the same plan they use in the AFLW team. 

“My senior assistant Glenn Strachan, he took the reins with that one so we could have that flow through the players, play the same way, stick to the same game plan,” he said. 

“Mia Austin - for example - who played some games, could go back and really get after areas of improvement that we have for her. 

“She went, played our system at a lower level to get after those improvements. Throughout that process, we’ve seen some great results in our players.”

Buck himself has been developing his craft, spending time learning from Ash Hansen, senior assistant to Michael Voss. 

Using these sessions to take in game structures and get feedback, the Senior Coach has been emphasising the connection between the AFL and AFLW program. 

“I’m fortunate enough to spend time with Ash Hansen periodically around game plans and systems and get a clear understanding of how he sees the game and see what we can implement with ours,” he said.

“Our whole footy club works together to run both programs and I’m really fortunate that I can lean on the AFL coaches.”

Noticing a big uptick in the skill development of emerging players, Buck said the team are getting to the stage where they can focus more on the game plan than the fundamentals of football. 


With a greater pathway for women emerging in the lower levels, more players are coming into the professional system with a strong sense of the game and its nuances. 

“We drafted Lila [Keck] at the end of last year, and what I don’t need to teach her is the nuances of the game – how to turn your body going into a contest or how to jump left side or right side in a marking contest. She already knows those kinds of things, so we can focus more on the system and the way you want to play,” he said.  

“That’s the big change in people that have come through. Lila did Auskick from day one, that’s the difference: we’re starting to draft girls who have done Auskick and the pathways the whole way through.”

Another game has been added to the AFLW fixture, but Buck stressed that it won’t feel complete until one team has the chance to play every other team in the league. 


Noting how much work the players put in over all 12 months of the year, Buck is still hoping the competition can take bigger leaps in the near future. 

“At a minimum, we should be playing everyone once to make it a fair competition – it’s a great competition, the one we’ve got, but we’d be happier if we could play everyone once,” he said. 

“Our athletes are athletes 12 months of the year. They have to live an elite lifestyle the whole year and then unfortunately they only get this little period, and if we muck up a couple of games or it doesn’t go your way, it’s really unfortunate. I think the players, and the work they put in now… they deserve more.”