AFLW next big thing

Geelong Advertiser - - SPORT - CHRIS CA­VANAGH

FOR­MER Hawthorn mid­fielder Daniel Har­ford says he does not har­bour any am­bi­tions to coach men’s foot­ball at the top level as he takes the reins of Carl­ton’s women’s team.

In­stead, the for­mer Hawthorn star pre­dicts AFLW will be­come “a beast” within five years. Har­ford said he had fallen in love with the women’s game and wanted to be “part of the move­ment”.

He said he loved every sec­ond as an as­sis­tant with Mag­pies AFLW last sea­son af­ter coach­ing se­nior men’s foot­ball for a decade with VAFA side St Kevin’s and Eastern Foot­ball League out­fit Bal­wyn.

“The AFL sys­tem’s all-con­sum­ing and I quite like my life- style at the mo­ment,” Har­ford said.

“I get to see my fam­ily, I get to talk a bit of rub­bish on (RSN) ra­dio every day and I get to coach and scratch that itch as well.

“It’s a great mix of my loves and pas­sions and at this stage I don’t think I’ll be do­ing any­thing else.

“What I love about the girls is they just want to learn. They’re sponges and ev­ery­thing you say they’ll lis­ten to.

“There’s not a lot of egos here and they just want to get bet­ter and that’s the at­trac­tion of the whole com­pe­ti­tion.”

Har­ford, 41, who played 162 AFL games for Hawthorn and Carl­ton, said his coach­ing motto was “do the easy thing of­ten and well”.

He vowed to lift Carl­ton’s scor­ing next sea­son af­ter the side av­er­aged just three goals a game dur­ing a two-win 2018 cam­paign.

For­mer Blue Brad Fisher and ex-Port Ade­laide star Steven Salopek have joined Har­ford as as­sis­tants along with Shan­non McFer­ran, who coached Colling­wood’s VFLW side this year.

The re­turn of cap­tain Bri Davey from an ACL in­jury is set to boost the Blues in 2019, but Har­ford said he ex­pected the whole com­pe­ti­tion to take a gi­ant leap for­ward.

“I would sug­gest within five years the whole prod­uct, the level of play, the ex­pec­ta­tion from fans but also from play­ers … it’s go­ing to go through the roof,” Har­ford said.

Carl­ton be­gins pre-sea­son train­ing on Wed­nes­day, with its first game against North Mel­bourne on Feb­ru­ary 3.

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