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Wood to be fourth female AFLW head coach

Natalie Wood will become the fourth woman to coach an AFLW side when Essendon join the league.

The Bombers have appointed the former Western Bulldogs and Geelong assistant as their inaugural senior coach.

Bec Goddard, who coached Adelaide to the first AFLW flag, and Fremantle’s Michelle Cowan had senior roles when the women’s league started in 2017.

Peta Searle coached the Saints when they joined the competition in 2020.

Wood has an impressive women’s football resume, with 17 years and 197 games as a player for the Darebin Falcons and Melbourne University.

The secondary school teacher and assistant principal played in five premierships and 10 state games and was a three-time All Australian.

Wood had four years as an assistant coach in the Geelong women’s program and joined the Bombers after two years as their AFLW midfield coach.

“The club has developed a very strong women’s program and culture since their introduction to the VFLW and I look forward to continuing the development of women’s football at Essendon,” Wood said in a club statement.

“To be joining the red and black family – and a club like Essendon with its rich history – is a true privilege.”

The AFL is on the verge of deciding whether the next AFLW season will start as early as August.

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