2023 BHP Community Coach of the Year

The AFL and BHP congratulate Kellie Nolan from the Maroubra Saints Junior Football Club on winning the 2023 BHP Community Coach of the Year award.

Announced on Monday evening at the 2023 W Awards, Kellie was selected from a vast and impressive field of candidates who are playing a big role in driving the growth of female football across the country.

Now in its third year, the BHP Community Coach of the Year program recognises a person who has made an outstanding contribution to progressing football for women and girls at grassroots level.

A Level 2 accredited coach, Kellie has developed an extensive coaching CV and contributed significantly to the success of girls footy at her club and in the local community more broadly. She was the first youth girls coach at Maroubra, is currently coaching the under 18 youth girls team and is also head coach at UTS Bats and PLC in the Sydney Independent Schools competition.

When Kellie started her coaching journey at Maroubra in 2011, the Saints were one of three teams to compete in the first Australian rules football youth girls competition in Sydney. The club, like the game for women and girls, has grown enormously since then and in 2023 the Saints had 235 registered female players, an 18 per cent increase on the year prior. This is in addition to 375 male players and 146 Auskickers.

Kellie’s contribution extends beyond coaching at Maroubra Saints, which competes in the AFL Sydney Juniors competition. She is also on the committee, is ‘Umpire Ambassador’ for the club and is credited with having had a profound and positive influence on the game in the region.

Kellie said she is extremely proud to be the recipient of the BHP Community Coach of the Year honour.

“Winning the award is actually a really big honour for me. I’ve coached for many years, but to be recognised as someone who has helped the female pathway and youth girls pathway through Sydney means a great deal.

“In terms of coaching, girls who have never played contact footy before, girls who just want to be part of a team and enjoy and have fun, it’s very rewarding as a coach. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in coaching.”

BHP President Australia Geraldine Slattery congratulated Kellie Nolan on being awarded the 2023 BHP Community Coach of the Year.

“Kellie’s commitment to coaching and advocacy for girls and women in sport is inspirational, and we are so pleased to be able to recognise her achievements with this award. Community coaching is one of many programs that BHP supports in partnership with the AFLW, as we work together to create more opportunities for women to thrive in sport and in business across Australia.”

Previous winners of the BHP Community Coach of the Year:

  • 2022: Natalie Pribil – Beaumaris Junior Football Club, South Metro Junior Football League (Vic)
  • 2021: Rebecca Ticli – MCC, Victorian Amateur Football Association (Vic)

The BHP Community Coach of the Year is a key component of the partnership between the AFL and BHP, which earlier this year was extended for a further three years through to 2025, after the two organisations first came together in 2020.

The partnerships builds on the AFL and BHP’s shared ambitions to improve opportunity and equality in both business and sport and will focus on enhancing the impact in gender diversity. The partnership sees the global resources company continue as a Women’s Coaching Partner and Inclusive Community Club Partner. BHP has naming rights and presenting partner status of several key coaching programs including:

  • The BHP AFL Women’s Coaching Academy
  • BHP Community Coach of the Year Award
  • AFLW Player to Coach Programs
  • She Can Coach National Program, presented by BHP
  • Women’s Coaching Month, presented by BHP

Since the inception of AFLW in 2017, women and girls football has gone through tremendous growth. Women and girls now make up 20 per cent of community football participants nationally, with more than 75,000 women and girls playing.

In the last year alone, participation levels for girls aged 5-9, from NAB AFL Auskick through to junior footy, has grown 13 per cent.

In 2023 there were around 27,500 accredited Australian rules coaches across Australia, of which just under 2,500 were female, a number that has grown significantly however the AFL and BHP are committed to encouraging more women and girls to come into coaching.

In 2022, the AFL committed $5 million over three years in new investment to fund phase one of the Women and Girls Action Plan to drive more opportunities for women and girls across playing, coaching, umpiring and administering. The plan is a key part of the AFL’s commitment to reach our aim set out in the Women’s Football Vision of equal participation and representation across all levels of community football by 2030.