Adelaide premiership coach Bec Goddard has taken a major step towards returning to the AFLW as she prepares to lead Hawthorn's VFLW team.
Goddard will headline the Hawks' historic all-female coaching group to become the first club in VFLW history to go without a male figure since stand-alone club Darebin Falcons.
Goddard has been in contention for a number of AFLW head coaching jobs since departing the Crows at the end of the 2018 season, but those positions have ultimately been accepted by men.
The 42-year-old was appointed as Hawks coach ahead of 2020, but the VFLW season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of next season, Goddard will be joined by Christina Polatajko, Hayley Gregory, Lou Wotton, Natasha Beck and Steph Carroll.
Goddard said Hawthorn had taken an important step for the future of the women's game.
"Being overt, having brave leadership and seeing the potential in having five women coaches who haven't had their opportunity to shine," she said.
"That will start the ball rolling so that in five years time we don't look back and think, 'Well, we didn't do anything and we've still got no women coaches'.
"We can look back and say, 'We did something. We did something and we're very proud of it'.
"AFLW is still mostly a part-time competition and I think there is a deep-held belief about what we think leadership in football should look like."
Goddard led the Crows to the 2017 AFLW flag, the inaugural season of the top-flight women's competition.
But she was replaced by former champion AFL ruckman Matthew Clarke for the 2019 season, with Adelaide becoming the first club to win a second AFLW premiership.
The AFLW has swelled to a 14-team competition, up from eight in 2017, but St Kilda's Peta Searle will go into 2021 as the league's only female head coach.
Hawthorn are one of just four clubs without an AFLW licence but hope to enter the competition in 2022.
Australian Associated Press