The AFLW’s newest senior coach, Scott Gowans, has called for part-time coaches to push into full-time coaching.
- Scott Gowans will lead the Sydney Swans into their maiden AFLW season in 2023
- He says if players become full-time, it’s essential coaches follow suit
- Gowans says the average assistant coach in AFLW is earning $6,000 for the whole season
Gowans was last week announced as the Sydney Swans inaugural women’s senior coach after a two-year spell from senior coaching. Gowans was last at the helm of North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos before losing his job after cutbacks from COVID-19.
After winning 11 from 14 games in his two-year tenure at Arden Street, Gowans was offered an assistant coaching role at Collingwood under Stephen Symonds, something he told the The W with Sharni and Sam he was very lucky to be a part of.
“They offered me more money than what the average assistant coach gets, so I was very lucky at Collingwood,” Gowans said.
“The average assistant in an AFLW program is around the $6,000 mark.
“Even if you were getting four times that — which I wasn’t, but if you were — it’s so tough and for the hours you do.
“If you imagine you’re going into training four times a week in pre-season, and you’ve got to work a normal job to pay your rent or a mortgage.
“You’ve got elite athletes in a program, and an assistant coach probably has a closer relationship [with players] than a head coach, because the head coach is overseeing the program and got so much on.
“So we’re probably in AFLW land sitting in a space where the assistant coach is, unless they’re connected with the club in some other way and doing dual roles at the club as a full time coach, it’s a really tough gig.”
‘Nobody is going to do it for $10 to $20 an hour’
While at Collingwood, Gowans worked across multiple roles where he’d spend approximately 25–30 hours a week “on the tools” across different areas.
It led to more reflection on the differences between being an assistant coach at Collingwood and previously at Carlton, and how different it was as the Kangaroos head coach.
“At North Melbourne I had great assistants and they would provide me with great information,” he said.
“Probably on reflection I undervalued how critical that is to the head coaching role.
“So by going back a step and supporting Steve [Symonds] and the other coaches and players, you realise what an underpaid, undervalued role the assistant coach is in the AFLW.”
Gowans said the contract ties in for six months from November to April in the season, and estimated a men’s assistant coach would be earning “around about $150,000, somewhere around that figure”.
And while he fully supports the push for players to be contracted full-time, he said he can already see obstacles in front of the league.
“What the hell’s going to happen when they become full time and there’s one full-time coach in the program?” he said.
“Unless the coaches association or the AFL are going to help and support enough coaches in the program to coach the athletes full time and make it worthwhile, nobody is going to do it for $10 to $20 an hour. You’re just not going to do it and pay a mortgage and rent.”
Doing it for the love of the game
Gowans acknowledged that most assistant coaches in AFLW are doing it “because we love the game, and we want to grow the game and it’s a unique opportunity to work in football”.
“You’re looking at a pretty good living as far as being able to do it full time and look after a family. You’re probably somewhere around the $80k to low $100k,” he said of becoming a head coach.
“AFLW can change our worlds collectively because it can change people. It’s really important that we talk about it and be open about where we all sit.
“The conversations hopefully allow the decision to make it a full-time program eventually to be out on the table and we can all discuss it and come up with something that’s equitable and fair for players and for coaches and for program staff.”
Swans job a dream come true
For Gowans, landing the head coach role at the Sydney Swans women’s side, and also coach future coaches, is a dream come true.
“When I got this role I don’t mind admitting I was a little bit emotional and also very happy to get it,” he said.
“If I could pick a perfect job, this is it. I’m not just saying that.”
The Swans are due to join the AFLW in late 2022 after an extensive wait as an expansion side, but incredibly leads the AFLW membership tally and was the first club to reach the 4,000 foundation members milestone.
“The idea is that I’m going to develop male or female coaches that want to coach AFLW and upskill them to what it takes to win AFLW football,” he said.
“The academy is well underway and there’s over 200 girls in the academy, of all different age groups right across the state in the Swans area. It’s such a good job to be able to do that.
“Not only do I get to coach the sport that I love and I’m passionate about, I get to teach others on my philosophies, and hopefully they’re right.”
Source: AFL NEWS ABC