AFLW Trailblazer, First Woman inducted into WA Football Hall of Fame, Leader, Mentor, Facilitator
Jan Cooper’s work at the intersection of sport and education to overcome societal bias contributed to the exponential growth of female players in the AFL from 16,000 to more than 480,000 in just 10 years.
Regarded as a pioneer of Australian Rules Football for women and girls, Jan’s contribution to the code has been acknowledged many times over. Most recently, she was the first woman to be inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame, honoured as the West Coast Eagles FC’s No.1 ticket holder, and bestowed one of the nation’s highest honours, an Order of Australia medal.
A trailblazer in the AFL community and an instigating force for the AFLW national women’s league, Jan has also been awarded the Football Woman of the Year, AFLW Premiership Cup Ambassador and was a finalist in Sports Category of the Western Australian of the Year Awards.
In her role as the AFL’s National Manager for Female Football Development, Jan spearheaded improved professionalism in the State Women’s League. Strategies she developed for a female talent pathway saw the establishment of State and National High Performance Academies, and the emergence of the WA State Schoolgirls 16s and AFLW 18s competitions. Her ability to galvanise State and Territory colleagues was instrumental in achieving the vision of a national televised women’s league.
A well-respected leader in sport, Jan used her Masters of Education degree in Athlete Centred Learning to manage training programs across the country. These included Sportsfun for the Australian Sports Commission and SEPEP (Sports Education in Physical Education Program) for Cricket Australia.
But it doesn’t end there! Jan was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame and achieved finalist status in the United Nations Diversity and Inclusion awards in recognition of her courageous advocacy for equality and equity, and her leadership in addressing diversity and inclusion.
Another of Jan’s passions, helping people become their best selves, was manifest as AFLW Manager of West Coast Eagles Wellbeing, a role in which she supported the development of players across all areas of their personal and professional lives. Whilst battling Breast Cancer Jan drew on her own resilience, as well as the self-improvement and wellbeing skills she had shared with players which included mindfulness, resilience and sleep recovery.
Never one to rest, she is currently working on Regional Women and Girls Pathways development and special projects.