Pioneering coach Peta Searle will be back at the helm of the Saints’ AFLW team in 2021 after officially re-committing to the club this week.

Searle led a young and inexperienced Saints to two wins from six games in the club’s inaugural season, while pushing some of the premier teams all the way.

Chief Operating Officer Simon Lethlean said Searle had created an incredibly strong culture within the AFLW program in a very short period of time.

“It was super impressive to see a young squad come together under Peta’s leadership and develop such close bonds with the club and each other,” he said.

“Despite how inexperienced we were, we became a really competitive outfit in 2020, winning two games, and were unlucky not to be vying for finals when the season was cut short after two close losses.

“With a lot of talented players coming through together we look forward to watching them take another step forward next season under Peta’s guidance.”

Searle said she was looking forward to building on what has been developing at the Saints over a number of years.

“A lot of the group have been with the club for at least two years through the VFLW and then our first AFLW season,” Searle said.

“To see the girls develop over the course of last season, and grow confidence in themselves and each other was really rewarding.

But I know there is still so much improvement to come which makes it exciting from a coaching point of view.

- Peta Searle

“We have added to our group through the draft and Trade period with a mix of experience and youth and the challenge now is to build on what was achieved in our inaugural season.”

Searle was initially appointed by St Kilda in 2014 as the first full-time female assistant coach in the men's competition.