Former Fitzroy coach Alan McConnell takes reins at GWS

Current GWS Director of Coaching Alan McConnell has been appointed as head coach of the club’s AFL Women’s side for 2018.

McConnell replaces inaugural Giants AFLW coach Tim Schmidt, who has stepped away from the role to focus on an expanded role within AFL NSW/ACT’s talent programs in addition to his own kicking academy program.

GWS Giants Director of Coaching Alan McConnell takes over from Tim Schmidt as the AFLW head coach. Image: GWS Giants

In a statement released on the club’s website earlier today, Giants Chief Executive David Matthews said there had been an overwhelming response to having McConnell take on his new role as head coach of the women’s team, while maintaining his current role as the club’s Director of Coaching.

“We’re delighted to have a person and coach of the quality of Alan want to take on this role as head of our AFL Women’s team,” Matthews said.

“When the opportunity arose, it made sense to look internally to continue to build the relationship between our AFL and AFLW teams.”

Matthews also thanked Tim Schmidt on his efforts in establishing the club’s AFLW program in its first season.

“Many of the values and processes he implemented will continue to roll into the 2018 season and beyond.

“Pleasingly, Tim’s role at AFL NSW/ACT will ensure he continues to work with the Giants’ AFLW program as the key person identifying and developing young female talent in New South Wales and the ACT.”

McConnell joins the women’s program with a wealth of football experience, having been involved in the game for over 30 years.

Playing 37 games for Footscray, McConnell was the last coach of Fitzroy before the infamous merge with the Brisbane Bears in 1996.

Alan McConnell is pictured coaching Fitzroy in 1996. Image: Bryan Charlton

McConnell was the Giants’ first-ever appointment in 2009 and has held positions at the club as an assistant coach and senior assistant coach before being appointed as the Director of Coaching.

His appointment makes him the first person to be the senior coach of both an AFLM and AFLW side.

The Giants will be hoping for an improvement on season 2017 where they finished bottom of the ladder with only one win and one draw from their seven outings.

Their one win came in stunning fashion, upsetting a Melbourne outfit searching for a Grand Final berth in trying conditions.

The team will also be buoyed by its retention of top Victorian-based players in All-Australian Jess Dal Pos, Phoebe McWilliams and Louise Stephenson, and the further acquisition of four more talented Vics during the trade period.

The Giants lost only Ashleigh Guest while using their early picks to secure midfielder Alicia Eva from Collingwood, forward options Pepa Randall and Maddie Boyd from Melbourne, while former Carlton key defender Rebecca Privitelli signed in free agency.

The AFLW pre-season kicks off in early November.

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