PORT ADELAIDE’s inaugural Head of AFLW has described her excitement at the opportunity to build the club’s new women’s football program ahead of its AFLW entry late next year.
Juliet Haslam was unveiled at a press conference at Alberton on Tuesday in front of club staff and partners.
The dual Olympic gold medal winning Hockeyroo has a long and proud family history at Port Adelaide, growing up watching her father Ross Haslam play over 100 games in the black and white before marrying four-time premiership player Andrew Obst.
Haslam’s new role will include AFLW football operations, culture, coaching appointments, list management and high performance.
She described being the club’s first AFLW appointment as a privilege.
“I’m incredibly excited, a bit overwhelmed to be honest, but I’m really looking forward to it,” Haslam said.
“It’s a very special club. It’s something that has always been important to me, to my family, to so many people in South Australia.
“I’ve been a passionate supporter all my life from the early years crawling around the grandstand at Alberton watching my dad play, marrying into the Obst family and in fact being fortunate enough to play in the 2004 women’s Showdown, where we did beat the Crows.
“There’s a lot of fantastic history there but it is the future I’m really excited about.
“This is an outstanding, professional club and I think this is a really unique and special opportunity and I can’t wait to start building this program.”
Since finishing her highly successful time playing hockey, Haslam has built an impressive corporate, marketing and consultancy career working for a range of organisations including Coca-Cola and Sarah Homes.
She has also served on the Boards of Hockey SA and Hockey Australia, as well as the SA Sports Institute and the Board of Governors for the SA Hall of Fame.
Port Adelaide chief executive Matthew Richardson explained that there were a number of high-quality candidates for the role but Haslam was a standout.
“We were blown away by not only the number but also the quality and we did speak to quite a number of people,” Mr Richardson said.
“There are some incredible people out there.
“Juliet in her own right, if you think about what she has achieved as an athlete at the highest level plus her corporate career, it was really quite a unique skillset for this role in particular because there is absolutely the on-field side in building an elite sports program but also really importantly the integration across into the commercial aspects of the club are really important.
“It was just a bonus at the end that Juliet had a strong understanding of Port Adelaide. We were thrilled with the fact that Juliet was interested in the role and… I don’t think there is a better person to be leading our AFLW program.”
Haslam will start in the role full-time in mid-December after completing some projects with the Australian Institute of Sport.
She will need to hit the ground running, with a long list of appointments to make in the list management, high-performance and coaching space in particular.
“The club has already been quite amazing and there is a women’s steering committee, there’s already an integration plan,” Haslam said.
“The club has been amazing putting so many things in place so I look forward to building that program into the most successful program that we can make it.
“Once we have the team on board, it’s creating that excellent high-performance environment. We want the players to thrive on and off the field so there’ll be a welfare element to that too.”
While Haslam’s football career with Port Adelaide was limited to a one-off women’s Showdown in 2004, she is excited that future generations will get the chance to wear the guernsey and represent the club.
“So many years ago, that opportunity just wasn’t there and to be able to now have this pathway for so many young girls and young females to be able to play AFL footy is just incredible,” she said.
“In the last four or five years we’ve seen an enormous level of growth in the number of girls playing football – I think it’s 20 per-cent year on year growth, which is quite phenomenal.
“There is a really significant and rich talent pool within South Australia so just having more role models for those girls and to be able to give them a second club to be able to come to in South Australia.”