New association can only benefit football in region

THE role of a football coach must be a tough and lonely place at times

Whether it's at junior or senior level, football coaches are constantly faced with a myriad of testing challenges in what can be a suffocating role considering the amount of time that must be devoted to it.

Take this quote from Marong's Corey Gregg in the Bendigo Advertiser 18 months ago: "I’m always thinking about footy, be it different things we can do at training or on game-day and ways we can improve.

"It’s hard to switch off from footy because every night I’m thinking about something to do with it."

It’s hard to switch off from footy because every night I’m thinking about something to do with it - Corey Gregg

And this from former Golden Square coach Mark Lloyd: "I reckon with training, game-day, phone calls and time spent one-on-one with players, I would be looking at 20 to 30 hours a week on football."

Gregg and Lloyd both paint a picture of the pressure coaches - and there's upwards of 300 in the region, including assistants - are constantly under.

There's certainly a lot more to the caper than just training and game-day that until you've been in the hot seat, it's difficult to get an appreciation of just how much goes into it.

Which is why AFL Central Victoria's new coaching association is a tremendous initiative spearheaded by development manager Rick Coburn - himself a former seven-year coach of South Bendigo.

In short, the aim of the coaching association is to provide an avenue for coaches from senior through to Auskick to network and share information, plus open up extra training and development opportunities.

The chance for junior coaches, in particular, to continually learn and evolve through education and mixing regularly with their peers is vital as they are moulding the future senior players of the game.

The association will also open up the door to the top level through guest speakers that will include AFL assistants at the monthly coaches meetings that will be held from March.

What I really like is the involvement of Damian Drum (picture) as an ambassador.

While Drummy is now well-known for his political career, you forget at times just what a coaching asset Bendigo has in him.

After all, he coached Fremantle in 53 AFL games between 1999 and 2001.

Drum has a wealth of knowledge to share that hasn't had a chance to be fully utilised from a coaching perspective since his last full-time gig with the Bendigo Diggers in 2002.

And the association has also drawn the support of the two coaches in charge of Bendigo's top-tier programs - David Newett (Bendigo Pioneers) and Aussie Jones (Bendigo Gold).

Jones and Newett will act as mentors and during the year will open up their coaches box on game-day, which from first-hand experience with the Bendigo Gold is certainly an eye-opener.

Hopefully, all coaches in the region take up the opportunity to be involved in the association for it can only benefit them, and ultimately, the game.

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