AS A mum, coach and teacher, Emma Grant has many life experiences to draw on to help up-and-coming football stars.
From the highs of 20 matches for Collingwood in the AFLW to the painful decision to call time on her playing days, Emma can provide plenty of advice.
This year Emma has taken on a female football advisory role with AFL Central Victoria and Champions IGA-backed CVFL women’s football competition.
Emma is also on the Bendigo Pioneers coaching panel, and works with the Athlete Development Program and PE programs at Bendigo South East Secondary College.
In a busy 2021 season, Emma is an assistant coach with the Bendigo Pioneers under-19 boys and girls teams, Victoria Country under-19 girls and will soon lead the Bendigo Pioneers under-15 girls’ team in the V/Line Cup.
“Being with the Pioneers is a great experience,” Emma said of a coaching panel led by Danny O’Bree.
“I have learnt a lot from Danny and the other coaches, and there’s a lot more to learn.”
An event Emma is looking forward to is a women’s coaching forum.
“The goal is to have more senior female players become involved with coaching.
“We have come a long way in women’s footy, but there’s still a long way to go.”
The game has come a long way since Emma first played for Gisborne from the under-9s to under-12s.
“I used to go along to watch my brother play, and then I wanted to play.”
Not only did Emma get to play for Gisborne, but also in the colours of her favourite team, Western Bulldogs.
“The dream was to be the first female drafted to play for the Western Bulldogs men’s team,” Emma recalled.
After 10 years of no football because of no junior girls competition, Emma joined the Bendigo Thunder for its first season in 2011.
Among the highs as a Thunder star were back-to-back premierships and captaincy.
Emma was part of history in 2017 when the first AFLW match between Carlton and Collingwood was played on the Blues’ turf at Ikon Park in Princes Park.
It was the first of 20 matches that Emma played in the famous black and white stripes.
Her switch from playing to coaching was helped along by an AFL Coaches Association scholarship in which Emma had Nathan Buckley as a mentor.
After not playing in 2020 because of concussion, Emma decided to end her playing days.
“It was a tough call, but the right one.
“For so long footy had always been number one,” she said of the challenge of preparing for and the thrill of competing.”
Emma is completing a level three coaching course.
“Playing days are over, but I’m excited for the future.
“I look forward to continuing to take opportunities presented and see where my coaching goes.”
The versatility that Emma showed and developed on the footy field have been a huge plus as coach, teacher, and most importantly, as a mother.
Written by Nathan Dole.
Photo credit – AFL Photos