WAWFL Life member
“Harwood Newest Life Member Since 2002” article from the WAWFL 2017 Report
In our 30th year we formally recognised our ninth Life Member to the WA Women’s Football League, Nikki Harwood. Nikki “Webbo” Harwood joins an illustrious club of league pioneers, champions and leaders who have made their mark on women’s football in Western Australia.
Nikki first became involved in female football in Victoria in 1997 (at age 21) where she began her playing career. She returned to Western Australia at the end of 2002 and in 2003 Nikki began playing for Southern Thunder Women’s Football Club and in the same year won her first WAWFL Premiership. She was then appointed player/coach in 2004 and continued on as player in 2005.
In 2004, whilst playing and coaching for Southern Thunder Football Club, Nikki began her time with the Western Australia Women’s Football League Board as the Competition Coordinator. During this time she was also tasked with the League B&F Awards Night and decided to change it up from a low key event at Franklins Tavern to a more formal event to honour the best and fairest in the league in the style they deserve. This tradition continues to this day. She continued in this position in 2005 before being elected president for two years. Taking on the role as WAWFL President came at a pivotal time for the league where female football needed to transition to become more professional. In recognising this need Nikki became a key driver in building the profile of female football and assisting clubs to work towards positive improvements. During this time Nikki also worked closely with Jan Cooper in order to develop strategies to promote the development of female football in Western Australia.
In 2005, Nikki began her playing career with the East Fremantle Women’s Football Club (formally Melville Women’s football Club). In her time at the East Fremantle Women’s Football Club Nikki held many roles including President in 2008-2009, League Coach in 2011-2013 and was a player from 2006-2011 and 2015-2016. Nikki enjoyed premiership success again as a player in 2007 and 2009 and one as player/coach in 2011.
As Club President, Nikki worked tirelessly alongside key stakeholders in the East Fremantle Football Club to develop a relationship between the clubs that saw Melville affiliate with East Fremantle Football Club which saw the inception of the East Fremantle Women’s Football Club. Nikki’s influence and commitment to the game over many years saw her inducted into the East Fremantle Women’s Football Club Hall of Fame in 2014.
Nikki’s playing career has been highlighted by her selection in numerous state teams. She was WA representative in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011, including Vice Captain in 2007 and Captain in 2009. During her state career, Nikki was named All Australian Player in 2001 (for NSW), 2006, 2007, 2009 where she was also named All Australian Vice Captain, and in 2011. Further to Nikki’s All Australian honours, Nikki was also named on the Half Back line in the WAWFL team of the decade (1998-2007).
After retiring as a player, Nikki began to further develop her coaching career and continue to develop the profile of female football in WA through the talent pathways. In 2010 and 2012, Nikki was an Assistant Coach for the WA Under 18’s team and in 2012 and 2014 was named Indigenous All Stars Coach. In 2013 Nikki was an Assistant Coach for the WA Open Team and took on the role as Head Coach for the WA Talent Academy from 2013-2014.
Following these WA State appointments, Nikki was considered as one of the most promising female coaches in Australia and this was recognised when she was selected as an Assistant Coach for the Melbourne Demons in the inaugural 2013 women’s AFL game before being appointed Co-Head Coach for the Western Bulldogs the following year and in 2015 was retained as an Assistant Coach with the Western Bulldogs. In 2016, Nikki was then recruited as an Assistant Coach for the Collingwood Football Club for the inaugural 2017 AFLW season and is a role model for others as to the pathways now available for female coaches around Australia.
Nikki’s significant contribution to the development of female football in Western Australia is undeniable. With 15 years of service to the WAWFL and over 150 games as a player and many more as a coach, the League is proud to bestow life membership to Nikki Harwood.