Fremantle have added two new faces to its AFLW coaching structure as pre-season commences ahead of season six of the NAB AFL Women’s competition.
Two former Freo Dockers AFL players in Daniel Haines and Jay van Berlo have joined the team, with Haines taking over as the midfield coach and van Berlo becoming the new forwards coach.
Haines played for Fremantle for two seasons in 2002 and 2003 as well as 128 games for Peel in the WAFL. As a coach he was the senior development coach for the Thunder in 2018 and 2019 and worked as an assistant with their WAFLW reserves team in 2021.
He said he was thrilled to return to the Club in a role with Fremantle’s AFLW team.
“I’m very passionate about football and it’s been a big part of my life for a long time. With women’s football, it’s that passion that the girls show and their commitment to improve that has enticed me to go in this direction,” Haines said.
“I was fortunate to do a little bit of coaching at Peel Thunder with the reserves last year with the female team, who won the Grand Final and that was a great first experience in the women’s game.
“I’m really excited to be back and a part of the Purple Army again and back in this environment. It’s been a long time out of the AFL system and it’s great to be back into it.”
Van Berlo played 32 games for Fremantle between 2009 and 2012 and recently returned to the club as a coach with the Next Generation Academy.
He also has a storied career in the WAFL for West Perth, playing 183 games, highlighted by two best and fairest wins in 2008 and 2016, captaining the team between 2014 and 2017 and winning a premiership in 2013.
Van Berlo said he would draw on his experience as a captain at West Perth in his new coaching role.
“I watched a little bit of the West Perth girls when I was up there and have followed Fremantle’s AFLW team from afar,” van Berlo said.
“It’s super exciting to get back involved with Freo. I’ve always wanted to get back involved, it started with the NGA and now I’m extremely excited to work with the women’s program.
“There’s always a lot of personalities at football clubs and the most successful teams tend to have a knack of bringing in all those personalities together and working as one as a team. It’s something I learnt in my leadership roles at West Perth, it was how to get the best out of every individual and that’s something I’m certainly passionate about and understand well, so I’m keen to see how that works here.”
The pair join Lisa Webb (backline) as Fremantle’s three line coaches under senior coach Trent Cooper.
Former forwards coach Amy Lavell remains an integral part of the coaching team, taking on a new role as a specialist coach to allow Lavell more flexibility to balance her work commitments.
Former midfield coach Craig Thomas has also changed roles to become the Assistant Coach - Strategy and Training Co-ordinator
High performance manager Kate Starre rounds out the coaching team as she continues the role she started in 2018.
Senior coach Trent Cooper said the coaching team was ready to get the most out of Fremantle’s list this summer.
“We’re really excited to have Daniel and Jay on board. It’s always great to get people with a previous association with the Club but the main reason we’ve got them on board is they’re both fantastic coaches,” Cooper said.
“Daniel’s proved himself as a player and coach at WAFL level and has a very keen interest in female football through his involvement at Peel and with his two daughters who play.
“Jay’s got an outstanding reputation as a leader and his work as a coach in the NGA program, he’s been excellent there and we’re excited about what he can do with our forward group.”
Cooper thanked outgoing assistant coach Garrick Ibbotson. A 177-game player and life member at Fremantle, Ibbotson was an assistant coach for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
“We have to keep improving as a team and it’s important the coaches keep improving as well, so it’s obviously tough to lose someone of Garrick Ibbotson’s quality for work-life balance reasons,” Cooper said.
“It is really pleasing that we can replace him with two coaches who are going to make a real big impact on our program and we’re really excited to see what the whole group can bring together.”