Community-focused Cavanagh becomes Coburg’s inaugural Senior Women’s coach

By Julia Montesano

The Coburg Football Club has appointed its first ever Senior Women’s coach, Liam Cavanagh in the lead-up the team running out for the first time in 2021.

Cavanagh boasts an impressive resume, having had coaching experience at Strathmore Football Club as the Senior Men’s playing assistant, Assistant Coach in the Mores’ Senior Women’s program and Head Coach of their Under 18 Girls team.

The 25-year-old also spent time playing in the VFL as part of Box Hill in 2016.

Four years later, Cavanagh is determined to take his key learnings from that experience to Piranha Park in 2021.

“I learnt so much there from a game plan and teaching perspective, but most importantly, the value of culture,” Cavanagh said.

“It was so eye-opening to see how the coaches communicated and taught not only the older players, but the younger players.

“(I also learnt) the importance of a player having that common purpose and clarity of what we’re trying to achieve and taking each other along for the ride.

“It wasn’t just the coach’s job to make people better.”

He hopes Coburg’s Senior Women’s team can be an environment that is centered on community, fun and culture.

“My priority is to build a community that happens to play footy rather than a footy team that has to play in the community,” Cavanagh said.

“If it’s the worst day of the season, I still want the footy club to be a fun place.”

In 2021, Cavanagh will have the opportunity to work alongside Coburg Senior Men’s Coach Andrew Sturgess, as the club works towards a big return to celebrate its 130th year.

“As a coach, I’m still learning and no doubt I’ll still learn from my players and co-coaches,” Cavanagh said.

“I’m not really a coach who tries to have all the answers but I’m really open and connected with my team and we’ll work with them to find the answers.”

Coburg FC General Manager Sebastian Spagnuolo was thrilled to welcome Cavanagh to Piranha Park.

“Liam brings a wealth of leadership, mental health and facilitation experience,” Spagnuolo said.

“His full-time role within the Movember Foundation sees Liam engage with sporting teams, local councils and corporate organisations to help drive key messages that focus on improving and empowering people in the space of mental health.

“We were drawn to Liam’s demonstrated ability to engage with anyone regardless of their understanding or experience in the game and his passion for getting involved in something from the ground up.”

The Lions will aim to have their Senior Women’s program compete in the VFLW competition, and have already put plans in place to work with the EDFL, Calder Cannons and AFL Victoria to create a pathway for women in the North and North-West suburbs.

“Our club’s aim is to replicate our VFL program in the VFLW competition,” Spagnuolo said.

“We will immediately set out to work with VFLW competition management to ensure that they are aware of our desire to be part of that competition and create a player pathway for girls and women in the North and North-West suburbs.

“We will also be engaging the EDFL, our club’s NAB League aligned club the Calder Cannons and AFL Victoria to ensure that they are also aware of our club’s plans in the Women’s football space.

“If we can’t immediately join the VFLW competition, we would look to join the EDFL’s Women’s competition with a view of moving into the VFLW in the future.”

Spagnuolo and Cavanagh are looking forward to getting the ball rolling with the Senior Women’s team, now that the foundation is set with Cavanagh’s appointment.

“There’s much work to be done which is really exciting, but the first step was getting the right people involved and having Liam join the club is a great start,” Spagnuolo said.

“It’s not often that a new part of a club starts up, so I guess the most exciting piece for me is being able to build something that hopefully lasts 130 years like the male side of footy has,” Cavanagh said.