New Crows coach building on Goddard's groundwork

ADELAIDE'S AFL Women’s team coaching pioneer Bec Goddard built a team culture from the ground up, now it's up to her successor Matthew Clarke to elevate the Crows' skills to the next level.

Clarke’s first official game is on Saturday night, when the Crows host the Western Bulldogs at Norwood Oval.

Adelaide won the inaugural AFLW premiership in 2017 and just missed the Grand Final last year.

Goddard was instrumental in the Crows' success by developing a tight-knit group. But she stepped down at the end of last season, returning to Canberra for work opportunities.

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The club’s general manager of football administration Phil Harper – who has been closely involved with the AFLW side since its inception – said Clarke’s appointment coincided with the team taking a different approach.

"The priorities have probably changed," Harper said.

"Bec's priority was team-building, team-bonding, getting a good culture and getting it together.

"Now, I think the girls are ready for more technical aspects – how we play the game.

"It's been a good handover. Matt's got the skills to do that and Bec had the skills to do the first part."

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Clarke has an extensive football resume, having played more than 250 AFL games and worked as an assistant coach with the Crows' AFL team for the past 10 years.

"The difference is that we've narrowed down on some skill fundamentals," Crows co-captain Chelsea Randall said.

"We want it to be watchable, we want that next element and professionalism to come in, both on and off the field.

"‘Doc’ (Clarke) has spent a lot of time around those skill fundamental things and it's just been so engaging."

Clarke has promised to play an attacking brand of football, having seen his side take the game on in its practice match win against Fremantle in Darwin two weeks ago.

"What I have noticed is we play our best when we're playing fairly instinctively," Clarke said.

"We want to play aggressive and attacking footy because I think we'll play better if we go about it that way.

"I don't need a memo from the AFL to drive that," he said.

Clarke has emboldened his players to take responsibility at training, so they don't rely so much on Randall and her fellow co-captain Erin Phillips.

"He uses every second he has to get the most out of the players, ensuring they are showing leadership skills as well and it's not just about Erin (Phillips) and I having to speak all the time," Randall said.

"Someone else might have a job to do and I love that.

"It gives everyone a voice."

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