Transgender ex-AFL player and coach Laidley ready for new footy gig


Danielle Laidley, Australia’s most high-profile transgender woman, is shaping as a contender for West Coast’s vacant AFLW coaching position.

The 56-year-old has declared her interest in returning to elite coaching after leading North Melbourne’s men’s team between 2003 and 2009 as Dean Laidley.

Laidley also had assistant coaching roles at Collingwood, Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Carlton before stepping away from the AFL in 2015.

“That is true (I want to return to coaching),” Laidley told SEN WA on Thursday.

“It’s been a passion of mine and I’ve sort of been ready for about 12 months and even actually for this AFLW season, I was asked to do a coaching role at one of the Melbourne teams.

1996 North Melbourne Premiership player, Danielle Laidley is seen before the round 21 AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Sydney Swans at Marvel Stadium on August 07, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

“But I couldn’t because I was contracted for the doco (Danielle Laidley: Two Tribes).

“People have connected the dots, West Coast have got a position available and yes, I want to coach again.”

Laidley started her playing career with the Eagles in 1987, the club’s inaugural season, before moving to North and playing in the Kangaroos’ 1996 premiership.

West Coast are the only club with an AFLW coaching vacancy after Michael Prior quit last week.

While Laidley wants to be involved in the women’s competition, she has ruled out a return to the AFL.

“It’s been a few years now in the making, and as I said, West Coast is the only club at the moment that don’t have a coach for their women’s team, and they may possibly go with the interim coach,” she said.

“It sounds like a good thing, but there could be some other things happening down the track.

“I’m just being prepared, if you like, for any case scenario.”

Laidley, who spends time between Melbourne and Perth, visited the Eagles’ headquarters on Wednesday.

But she insists her appearance at Mineral Resources Park had nothing to do with the coaching role.

“(It) was organised many months ago,” Laidley said.

“It is a great round in AFLW, Pride Round is this weekend.

“A good friend of mine, Hamish Brayshaw, who’s one of the coaches there organised me to go down and speak to the girls about Pride Week and about the Pride Game.”

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