Natalie Wood has always had to perform a balancing act when it comes to her career and football.
At one point her career in education took preference over football, but now football has become her career after being appointed as the first full-time female coach at the Geelong Cats.
Wood will be an assistant coach with the Cats’ AFLW side in 2019 as well as head coach of the club’s VFLW team and a part of the Geelong’s Next Generation Academy.
She said she considered herself very fortunate to be in her position.
"I had made the decision to leave playing football to pursuit being an assistant principal,” she said.
"And that was the decision I made and I might have still had a year or two left in football, but I made the decision that my career was what was important to me at the time.
"So to three-and-a-half years later be considering that not being my career was definitely something that needed a lot of thought and consideration.
"I am passionate about working with young people and passionate about teaching and learning and growing. And I mean women's football is pretty exciting at the moment and I played for 16 years so I am pretty passionate about it as well.
"So to be able to match the two areas of focus in my life I know I am in a unique situation to be able to do that and I am pretty grateful."
But the former Darebin Falcons and Melbourne University premiership player said the decision was not as clear-cut as some might have thought.
She revealed she drew on the sudden passing of her father Peter last year, who was heavily involved in football in her hometown of Warrnambool, when ultimately deciding.
"You have to follow your dreams and follow your passion," she said her father’s passing reminded her.
“And to be doing that in a professional space now is pretty awesome and it was built on years of following dad around.
“So it seemed pretty logical to go work in football with that sort of reality check I suppose.”
Wood said she felt her teaching background played a big role in her being appointed by the Cats.
Though she did not believe being a female coach in the women’s competition was or should be a prerequisite for any club.
"The game is obviously really raw at the moment in terms of how the quick progression with the AFL launching the AFLW so I think to fast-track the women's game itself, it probably just needs the best coaches,” she said.
"So whether that is male coaches or female coaches, I think the best thing all clubs need to be insuring is that they are getting current day coaches with current day philosophies and skill sets.”