A new partnership between Essendon and Coles is set to help Tiwi female football players realise their dreams of becoming AFLW players.
The five-year partnership aims to unearth the newest stars of the AFLW by providing new opportunities for talented female footballers to make their way through Essendon’s Tiwi Pathway Program to the VFLW.
Talented footballers from the Tiwi Islands will live, train and play in Melbourne for Essendon’s VFLW team and receive mentoring and support from Coles, the largest private-sector employer of Indigenous Australians, with more than 4400 team members working across the country.
The young female talent will have a full immersive experience at the club, focused on professional and personal development, elite training and preparation.
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Coles becomes the official partner of Essendon’s Tiwi Women’s Pathway Program, the club’s official supermarket partner and official shorts partner of the VFLW Bombers.
The partnership is in addition to Coles’ support of the AFLW and AFL competitions which will see a focus on important issues such as health, nutrition, inclusion and community support.
Essendon chief commercial officer Justin Rodski said it was a truly immersive partnership that would strengthen the club’s female football pathways.
“We are so proud to align with a national brand like Coles, who like our organisation, are genuine and committed to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities right across Australia,” he said.
“This partnership also reflects both organisations’ investment into providing mentoring and professional development opportunities for young female football talent in remote communities like the Tiwi Islands, while also providing a worthwhile immersion experience in Melbourne to support their footballing dreams.
“With the incredible support of a partner like Coles to strengthen our overall women’s football program, the club is well positioned to enter into the national AFLW competition in the coming years with the expansion of our new elite women’s elite training facilities at The Hangar now also currently underway.”
Coles chief marketing officer Lisa Ronson said Coles was excited to partner with the Bombers to inspire and support young Indigenous female footballers from the Tiwi Islands.
“Supporting Indigenous communities is something we are passionate about at Coles. We are so inspired by the stories of these incredibly talented women and are delighted to be supporting them on their journey from the Tiwi Islands to Melbourne and hopefully help them realise their dreams of playing in the AFLW,” Ronson said.
Coles Fresh ambassador and award-winning chef Curtis Stone, who has spent time exploring the culinary delights of the Tiwi Islands in his program Surfing the Menu, gave the players a warm Melbourne welcome by sharing some tips and tricks in the kitchen, while the girls showed off their skills on the football field.
“The way women’s football has progressed is just unbelievable,” Stone said.
“To meet these three incredible women from the Tiwi Islands which is this beautiful little remote part of Australia right up just off the coast is such an honour. To see them come down and chase their dreams, it’s amazing because I bet these girls one day will be heroes for the next generation.”