Britt Tully: AFLW legend prioritises coaching
Britt Tully has always been a leader on the sports field. For as long as she’s played, she’s been in captaincy roles, whether it was in junior soccer, softball or Australian rules. This peaked in the past two seasons of AFLW, when she was among the GIANTS’ leadership group.
Recently, Britt called time on her elite AFLW career, allowing her innate will to “take people along for the ride,” to take centre stage. In 2021, Britt has enjoyed her third season as coach of the Ainslie Tricolours senior women’s side in AFL Canberra.
“It’s a great situation,” she says when speaking about the role of a playing coach. “You have to be a coach but you also have to put yourself on the line as a player for people to back you. If I’m asking the players to do something, I have to do it too.”
No doubt Britt’s team has immense respect for her. A stellar AFLW career saw her play 29 games across four seasons with the GIANTS (she had a year away from the game in 2019). A lock in the team’s midfield, a career highlight was her third place in the best and fairest in 2017 – not bad for player from Gungahlin, taken at pick 80.
She has also been AFL Canberra’s most dominant player of the past decade, with league best and fairest wins in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The respect from Britt’s players is reflected, with the coach noticing a big change in AFL Canberra in recent years: “As AFLW has progressed, it’s been easier to coach as girls have somewhere they want to aspire to.
“The competitiveness of girls over the past two or three years has increased. And that’s useful for me as coach as I can push people because they’re already competitive.”
Britt is always looking to extend her players and elevate women’s football, one training session at a time, in the hope that one day players will forge careers in AFLW the same way as AFL players.
“Girls have it a bit harder because they have to have a career and make something of themselves. You can’t just graduate Year 12 and get drafted to an AFL football club. And that sucks. But you also want people having something to push on to after their career.
“Hopefully in 5-10 years’ time it is a career ambition for talented girls, and not just a hobby on the side of working four jobs.”
One way she sees further improvement in the pathway for women’s elite to reach parity is to get something of a state of origin series return out of the AFLW season. “I’d love to be part of a team with the best players in the ACT and play against the best players in Vic. Personally I think we’d give them a good run, but we never get a chance to do it.”
Britt thinks a lot about the future of the women’s game and would love to be part of it. At the moment, establishing herself as a senior coach in AFL Canberra is her priority, but if an opportunity arose in the elite competition, she would, “not hesitate to take it.”
“Ultimately, I’m probably looking at coaching AFLW because I’d like to give back to something that has given so much to me.”
Our game is better with Britt Tully in it and we look forward to seeing where her coaching journey leads her.
July 2021 is the AFL’s inaugural Women’s Coaching Month, recognising the contribution of women who coach across the country. To learn more about AFL coaching for women, visit coach.afl/women-girls-coaching