Hawks CEO Tracey Gaudry wants Tasmania to reach new female fanaticism about football

It’s not lost on Hawks boss Tracey Gaudry for a moment that she’s the first female in charge of an AFL club in the exclusively male domain.

The confident 48-year-old could be labeled a pioneer for women in sport, not just for multiple national titles on the bike where she reached world number three amid several famed tour wins.

No other female before had reigned as CEO of the Amy Gillett Foundation, the head of the Oceania Cycling Confederation (OCC) and vice president of the UCI, the powerful international body that governs cycling.

This all coming from a woman on her appointment two months back that spent an hour or so with Alastair Clarkson “around my kitchen table” – of all places – to convince the coach’s place was to stay at Hawthorn. 

LIKE RIDING A BIKE: Gaudry during the women's cycling road race at Sydney 2000 Olympics. Picture: Getty Images

LIKE RIDING A BIKE: Gaudry during the women's cycling road race at Sydney 2000 Olympics. Picture: Getty Images

But should the straight talker’s methods be believed, the club has a open-and-shut case to supply one of the next AFLW licences that will call on Tasmanian women’s help. 

“Our strategy in regards to women’s football has been to build from grassroots up, so our strategy this year was to first build a VFL women’s team and to enter into the next round of expansion for AFL women,” Gaudry said.

“Fundamental to our submission is a commitment to be playing at least one of our home games at UTas Stadium for a start, and to be leveraging our community engagement throughout the state to encourage women and girls to play football.

“While we have the great membership of any club, more importantly we have the greatest number of female members of any club, so our ability to reach out and encourage participation is very strong.”

WE ARE HAWTHORN: Gaudry makes acquaintances with the portraits Michael Tuck, Leigh Matthews and John Kennedy. Picture: Getty Images.

WE ARE HAWTHORN: Gaudry makes acquaintances with the portraits Michael Tuck, Leigh Matthews and John Kennedy. Picture: Getty Images.

When stepping into the club headquarters, the luminary figures of Michael Tuck, Leigh Matthews and John Kennedy stand ominously in portraits behind her.

It’s a timely reminder of family club’s values – but one that until her arrival almost excluded women’s roles to the point her male predecessors snubbed the inaugural AFLW competition.

“I’ve come on board at a pivotal time for a great footy club,” she reminds herself.

Now the Hawks want to tap into female talent in Tasmania to put a chink in North Melbourne’s armour of exclusivity from its women's academy into the state. 

FIRST DAY: Hawthorn president Richard Garvey first introduces Gaudry to the awaiting media at the club's press conference. Picture: Getty Images

FIRST DAY: Hawthorn president Richard Garvey first introduces Gaudry to the awaiting media at the club's press conference. Picture: Getty Images

It’s a push that Gaudry has driven from the fateful day she first saw the images of the family club on the wall.

“Tasmania will become a part of not only our participation call, but of our feeder system of players for our list management for our future team,” Gaudry said.

“From a personal perspective as a female for whom sport has become a wonderful enabler, the involvement of more females in sport, whether not they make it through to an elite level, is such a strong determinant for their self-confidence, their mindset, their future education as sport is a great enabler for society.

“So if football can play a role in encouraging more women to take up the sport and that Hawthorn facilitates participation, we’ll achieve great societal outcomes.”