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Magpies unveil women's coaches

Collingwood's coaching team for the 2017 women's league (from left): Nikki Harwood, Brendan Major, Wayne Siekman, Harmit Singh and women's football operations manager Meg Hutchins.

Collingwood Football Club has unveiled its four women’s team coaches and launched a pioneering female coaching pathway program in the lead up to the inaugural national women’s league kicking off in 2017.

Dandenong Stingrays senior assistant Wayne Siekman will take the reins as senior coach, bringing 16 years of experience in both women’s and men’s football to the role.

He’ll be assisted by former Western Bulldogs women’s team coach Nikki Harwood, Victorian Women’s Football League Coach of the Year Brendan Major, and Northcote Park FC playing coach and Collingwood community employee Harmit Singh.

Women’s Football Operations Manager Meg Hutchins said the group was carefully pieced together to ensure the right mix of personalities and experience to establish a successful start-up side.

“Wayne has got an extensive knowledge of the under 18 female talent pool, Brendan and Nikki have a strong grasp of where the best talent exists in the senior women’s leagues, particularly Western Australia and Victoria, and Harmit brings a fresh set eyes and a great understanding of Collingwood’s history and culture,” Hutchins said.

In addition to his TAC Cup role with the Stingrays, Siekman coached the Victorian Metro Youth Girls to national championships in the past two years and has completed extensive work with AFL Victoria to fast-track the development of players in the youth girls’ academy.

The 33-year-old, who spent a week at the Holden Centre with Nathan Buckley in December, said the group’s ability to build and prosper relationships will be the key to establishing a professional side that will enjoy both short-term and long-term success.

“We want to create a culture where every player at Collingwood is developing both on and off the field, and players outside the club want to be part of what we have established,” Siekman said.

“We want to be the best and most professional women’s football program out there.”

Midfield coach Harwood juggles life as a full-time fire fighter and mother with her coaching career in Western Australia. The former elite women’s footballer has worked with Australia’s best female talent as part of the AFL women’s exhibition matches as well as holding roles in both the WAFL and WA Women’s Football League.

Forwards assistant Major earned the title of 2015 VWFL Coach of the Year for his work with the Eastern Devils. He also brings a strong background in strength and conditioning, having worked with athletes across AFL, VFL and NFL.

Collingwood Community Engagement Manager Singh rounds out the coaching panel with a different background as a successful player-coach, which includes back-to-back premierships in 2013-2014 with Morwell FC and the past two seasons at the helm of Northcote Park FC.

The coaching group, alongside Hutchins, will select three up-and-coming female development coaches as part of the Pies’ women’s pathway program aimed to develop female coaches in Victoria.

Hutchins said the development coaches will form an integral part of Collingwood’s women’s program.

“These coaches will work closely with Wayne and his assistants to further their knowledge and develop them to reach their full potential,” Hutchins said.

“It is the aim that we upskill these coaches so that in four or five years’ time the women’s league is being led by extremely talented female coaches who are the best candidates for the roles.”

Hutchins (left) joins the coaches as they walk the turf at the Holden Centre.