Lauren Arnell has been announced as the inaugural AFLW coach of Port Adelaide, in a coup for the second South Australian side to join the league.
- Arnell is a premiership player with the Brisbane Lions and captained Carlton in AFLW’s first season
- She is the first retired player to take on a senior AFLW coaching role
- She becomes the league’s third woman coach alongside Bec Goddard and Natalie Wood
A member of the 2021 Brisbane Lions premiership team and three-time All Australian, she is the first retired player to be announced as a senior AFLW coach.
She also captained Carlton in the first season of AFLW in 2017, going on to play a total of 36 games.
In securing the head coaching role at Port Adelaide, she becomes the third woman to coach an AFLW side, joining premiership coach Bec Goddard (Hawthorn) and Natalie Wood (Essendon).
In season six, every AFLW club was coached by a man, but three of the four expansion teams have named women in the role.
Arnell has spent the last 18 months working as head coach of the Brisbane Lions Academy, while she was a teacher for over a decade as well as a commentator for ABC Sport.
She also designed and delivered the AFL’s She Can Coach scholarship program in Victoria, to invest in the development of women coaches.
“To be the first AFLW coach in a club that is more than 150 years old is truly humble and I can’t wait for our team to write their own chapter in Port Adelaide’s rich history of success,” Arnell said.
“I want to be part of something great and I can already see we are building something special within our AFLW program.”
Arnell added that she was excited by the club’s “progressive” and “bold” vision for its women’s football program, including the transformation of the Alberton Oval precinct.
“Our female athletes will enjoy world-class training facilities and will provide future generations of young girls and women a pathway to represent Port Adelaide on the national stage.”
Port Adelaide’s head of AFLW Juliet Haslam said Arnell had been the standout candidate for the role.
“Lauren was incredibly impressive throughout the interview process,” said Haslam.
“Her presentation skills are first class and her passion for football and eagerness to develop others was clearly evident.
“Lauren will continue the proud legacy of women playing an important role in driving our club forward.”
Port Adelaide are yet to announce any player signings but have been heavily linked to superstar Erin Phillips.
Phillips is a three-time Premiership champion and two-time league best and fairest amongst a host of other accolades, while his father Greg won eight SANFL Premierships for Port Adelaide.
However, speaking to ABC Sport after the Crows’ third Premiership on Saturday, Phillips insisted she was yet to make a decision about her future, and could yet retire.