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Lisa Alexander: Former Diamonds head coach calls for more female coaches in men's teams

After coaching the Australian Diamonds for almost 10 years, Lisa Alexander is hoping to join the Australian Football League; watch the Manchester Thunder take on Severn Stars in the Netball Super League on April 19, live on Sky Sports from 7.25pm

Lisa Alexander coached the Australian Diamonds for almost 10 years
Image: Lisa Alexander coached the Australian Diamonds for almost 10 years

Former Australian Diamonds head coach Lisa Alexander has called for there to be more female coaches in the men's game and has applauded England’s development pathway, calling it a "little bit better" than Australia’s.

Throughout her coaching career in netball, Alexander led the Australian national team to various accolades but despite these achievements she has found the possibility of moving into a coaching role in the Australian Football League (AFL) difficult.

The majority of men's teams across all sports have a predominantly male coaching staff, and Alexander believes females are not being given the opportunity in them, leading to gendered roles which is not emblematic of society.

"It's better to have a balance because you get such different input from women coaches, we are more intuitive, we are in many respects more empathic so we can actually round out a coaching team," Alexander said speaking on the Sky Sports Netball Podcast.

"I don't know why more of the professional men's sports do not have women coaches on their teams regardless of which sport they coach. If you're a really good coach, you're a really good coach."

"Coaching is not all about the technical work on the court, it's so much about the understanding of the biology, the social nature and of course the culture.

"The culture is the big one that can make or break a coach to be fair. Sometimes no matter how strong your culture is, you can still lose by one goal in a gold medal final, and what it does, is it helps you cope with that as well and move on and improve.

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"You can't control what your opposition is doing but you can control what your club or your country are doing, and that's what I try and seek to educate coaches about.

"I can educate coaches not just in netball but in most of the invasion sports like football, your football or our Australian rules football.

"Coaches can be introverts as well as extroverts, and so you've got to figure out your way of communicating that's authentic to you, and that's just the way I did it. I always got to know the person behind the athlete."

Image: Australia beat England 69–49 in the 2024 Nations Cup final

In 2021, Alexander signed a two-year contract to lead the performance strategy at London Pulse and to join the Netball Super League side's coaching team alongside Sam Bird and Fiona Murtagh.

She also oversaw the performance pathway as head coach of the U21 squad, and believes that England are ahead of Australia in how they bring players through the system.

"The biggest eye opener was the actual training environment, it is very, very difficult, to even get a training venue is a struggle, particularly in London," Alexander said.

"Sam was always scratching her head. We would have to change venues quite a lot and it's not ideal.

"I think I helped the coaches and selectors to see a little bit more outside of the box, so instead of looking at what you've got now, what might you have in the future.

"That's what's another part of the success of Australia is the fact we can look at talent, select it and then develop it."

"Australia have got depth in every position and I know England's really working hard on that and I can see that in their programming and I applaud them for it, because that has made a difference in my opinion in the way England has performed on the international level.

"Particularly their development of their Roses pathway that for me is a little bit better than Australia."

Lisa Alexander joined the Australian Diamonds as a head coach in 2011
Image: Lisa Alexander joined the Australian Diamonds as a head coach in 2011

Away from netball, Alexander is hoping to dip her toes into the AFL and believes that she can make a difference in the sport.

"I'd love to have the chance to coach in the Australian rules Football League here in my home country. I have applied for it in the past," Alexander added.

"I would love to be Alastair Clarkson's assistant at North Melbourne Football Club where I could learn about the technical side of things, so that people think I can then actually coach, which I know I can anyway.

"But that would give me the opportunity to apply what I've just been speaking about, and I think I could make a difference too there because I think their organisation from a board level are open to out of the box thinking.

"I'm pretty sure they've got a CEO who is a woman, and also the president is a woman of the club.

"So to change the landscape here in Australia in a sport that is very, very male orientated that would be wonderful for me."

Watch the Manchester Thunder take on Severn Stars in the Netball Super League on April 19, live on Sky Sports from 7.25pm.

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