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AFL female football manager and WA Women’s Hall of Fame inductee Jan Cooper with her husband Ross and their sons Jake and Brent.

Jan Cooper and Betsy Buchanan recognised

AFL female football manager Jan Cooper has been inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame for her efforts in changing female football from a few small leagues across Australia, to having an elite women’s competition.

Ms Cooper was one of four female trainers when Swan Districts Football Club won three premierships in the 1980s when they were coached by John Todd.

Her father John Cooper is a Swan Districts Football Club Hall of Fame inductee and she has always followed the club due to his involvement.

Her connections to the club have always been strong.

She was the female football manager at the WA Football Commission when the 2006-7 Forrestfield women’s team was supported to become Swans women’s.

“I first got the job through former Swans league player, Colin West and head coach for Swans men Greg Harding is my cousin’s husband.’’

Her AFL female football development role means she has been involved in national academies, 18s nationals, women’s nationals and women’s exhibition games, which have included numerous Swan Districts players and coaches.

“Marquee players in the AFLW such as Adelaide Crows Chelsea Randall and Kellie Gibson, Fremantle’s captain Kara Donnellan and players Kirby Bentley and Ash Sharp are some Swans players who have benefited from national opportunities,’’ she said.

“This has also included facilitating programs with the AFL’s diversity unit such as Kickstart female Indigenous championships and Jim Stynes scholarships with Swans players Courtney Ugle and Maddison Yarran.

“Coach Nicole Graves and former Swans coach Meagan Omara have also been integral in national academies and carnivals.’’

Ms Cooper said she liked football because it was the most athletic game that was open to multiple skills, included any body size or shape and connected generations of families and all cultures in a common activity.

She first became involved in promoting women’s football through an invite from the WA football commission via Grant Dorrington and Mr West.

“They understood my passion for the game and believed I had the skills to develop female football.’’

Echo News asked her if she wished she was a teenage girl with the opportunities that are available now for women to have a football career.

“Absolutely.

“At times I’m very envious but then I’m just grateful that it’s finally available for these generations of females.”

Also inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame was Betsy Buchanan.

Dr Buchanan is credited with having established Western Australia’s first Community Law Centre in 1976 – there are now 280 such centres in WA.

Today the Midland Information, Debt & Legal Advocacy Service and the Wheatbelt Community Legal Centre in Northam are examples of those centres.

Dr Buchanan worked as an advocate based at the Aboriginal Medical Service (later the Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service) working on cases involving housing evictions, the handicapped child’s allowance, the reporting of child sexual abuse and the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody.

After graduating in law from the UWA she was employed at Crown law in 1971 but then chose to be a voluntary legal and social welfare advocate for Aboriginal people.

She has continued her demanding work for the Aboriginal community for more than forty years.

By Anita McInnes

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. Two of her sons were born at Swan District Hospital and for many years she was a partner in a small business, which operated in the Gingin-Muchea-Bullsbrook area. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. She says the best part of her job is meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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