Expansion AFLW clubs are trying to build their rosters but the lack of set dates is making it "very difficult" to sign interstate players for one of Canberra's own.
AFLW players and clubs still don't have clarity on when pre-season, the draft, or the sign and trade period will begin, as negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement need to be signed off first.
The only date set is the month of August for season seven to kick off.
The Hawks, along with incoming expansion clubs Essendon, Port Adelaide and Sydney cannot fully build their lists until dates are locked in. An extra barrier for clubs when attracting interstate players, with players' semi-professional status means considering work commitments outside AFLW.
"We expect preseason to start at the end of June with our first game in the last week of August, but we're not sure until we get the official confirmation," Hawthorn coach Bec Goddard said.
"For the players and being able to have meetings and talk to them, 'would you like to come and play at Hawthorn?' and if they're coming from interstate, planning your life around that, does make it very difficult.
"I think once we get the official confirmation, then that makes it a bit real. Then we've got the date for the sign and trade period, then we've got the date for the draft, and we can execute all of the plans that we've been preparing for over the last couple of months."
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Goddard knows first hand the choices players, coaches and staff make to commit to the AFLW each season.
This time, the Canberran had to make a "really hard decision" herself to walk away from her 20 year career in the AFP and put both feet into the AFLW.
And she recognises how important it was that the Hawks allowed her to do that whilst the women's competition was not full time.
"When I was in Adelaide, I had a foot in both camps. I was working for both the AFP and for Adelaide," she said.
"I felt like I hadn't quite reached my ceiling with the AFP but I had an opportunity to do something that I've loved all my life, that I thought I'd never had an opportunity to do, and I had to take it.
"[Making the AFLW full time] will be a game changer. And I am extremely grateful that Hawthorn has found a way for me to be full time in something that I love.
"I see all these women athletes winning premierships, and going about their day to day lives. And I look at that and go, 'imagine what they could do if they were just full time in sport. Imagine what they could achieve without all of the other things that they've got to commit to as well'.
"So I hope that with myself having this opportunity, it's not the last."
It's not her first rodeo with an inaugural team, following her time with the Adelaide Crows back in 2017, but one thing is different this time around for Goddard.
Even though it's Hawthorn's inaugural season, as the competition is already established this time, there are different rules and regulations that effect who she can sign.
The lack of official dates is adding to that, but so far there are four names on the Hawks' list. Dominique Carbone, Bridget Deed, Zoe Barbakos and Sophie Locke have committed.
"It's very rare in life that you get to do two things of the inaugural type. But that puts me in a great position because I know what works and how to start from scratch, so that's not daunting at all," she said.
"I never thought I would be working as a full time coach in football, let alone at Hawthorn, a club that I supported growing up.
"So to have a club that values me and what I bring to the table and include me in everyday business at the footy club ... it's great to be back."
Sports reporter at The Canberra Times. A Novocastrian with a passion for football (or soccer as they call it in the capital) via The Examiner and The Port Lincoln Times.
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