Coach Cowan in­spires with tales of per­se­ver­ance

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Look Local -

“DON’T give up – I once called an em­ployer seven times be­fore I even got a cof­fee date.”

That was one of the many pieces of ad­vice Dock­ers women’s coach Michelle Cowan of­fered Pres­by­te­rian Ladies’ Col­lege stu­dents last week.

Speak­ing to Year 11 and 12 stu­dents at the launch of the school’s lead­er­ship devel­op­ment pro­gram, Ever­est, Cowan in­spired the crowd with sto­ries of per­se­ver­ance.

A football lover from a young age, Cowan said she knew coach­ing at AFL level was her dream job.

“When I was 14, I’d go down to East Freo oval and I’d watch the league and re­serves and watch as much footy as I could,” she said.

“That was a key mo­ment for me; I was go­ing to coach in the AFL.”

How­ever, crack­ing into a male­dom­i­nated in­dus­try was not easy.

“A man once told me I’d never coach football, as it’s a man’s sport,” Cowan said.

“But that just made me want to even more.”

In her fi­nal years of school, Cowan wrote to all 16 (at the time) AFL clubs ask­ing for a chance.

She heard back from 14 and was of­fered a chance to meet with two.

At 21, she landed her first big coach­ing role, which she de­scribed as a daunt­ing but ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I was em­ployed by West Perth to be the mid­field coach,” Cowan said.

“I am for­ever grate­ful to (league coach at the time) Dar­ren Har­ris, who told the boys I was their new mid­field coach and if any of them had a prob­lem with it, they could leave and never play footy for the club again.”

Cowan’s first AFL job was with the Mel­bourne Football Club, which also of­fered her a role as coach of its AFLW team.

“The club were so good to me, but I just knew I had to take the role with Freo,” she said.

“It was hard hav­ing a young fam­ily and fly­ing back and for­ward, so I knew it was right.”

Cowan said her ex­pe­ri­ence was a re­minder that women could achieve any­thing.

“As a child, I had 44 men livestreamed into my lounge room,” she said.

“Now my daugh­ter Milly turns on the TV and sees 44 in­spir­ing women.”

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