IN 1993 Rick Coburn was a member of the inaugural team that played in the Bendigo Pioneers’ first TAC Cup match against the Murray Bushrangers at Golden Square.
Next year when the Pioneers take to the field for the first game of the 2017 season Coburn will be in charge after being announced as the club’s new coach on Thursday.
He’s the first former Pioneer player to be appointed coach of the club.
Coburn steps into the role after spending the past three-and-a-half years as an AFL Central Victoria football development manager.
Among his roles as FDM have been establishing the AFLCV academy program.
“I’m excited by the challenge,” Coburn said.
“Having played with the Pioneers back in 1993, I’ve always had an eye on how they go and always wanted the program to be a successful one for all our players in north west Victoria.
“It’s an important region, but one that has huge challenges in terms of distance and resources, but I’m excited by the opportunity to help guide these young players in the region.”
As well as his FDM role, Coburn also has seven years of senior coaching experience at South Bendigo between 2007 and 2013, where he had a 94-41-1 record.
The Bloods made the finals in six of those seasons, including back-to-back grand finals in 2009 and 2010, where they were beaten by Golden Square.
Coburn also spent the past two years coaching the Heathcote District inter-league team.
I’m excited by the opportunity to help guide these young players in the regionRick Coburn
“Having been involved in the academy development program over the past few years, it has given me a good eye-opener to who the young players are in the area and it’s going to be great now to be involved with the under-18 aspect,” Coburn said.
“I’m walking in with my eyes wide open; it’s great to be part of a talent pathway program and working with young players who are really keen to learn and develop their footy.
“That will be my focus, to help develop the lads to the highest possible standard they can reach in their own footy… whether that’s going back to their local club a better player or transitioning into the highest level of footy they can.”
Coburn joins Tony Southcombe (1993), Brian Walsh (1994-1999), Rod Macpherson (2000 to 2004), Mark Ellis (2005 to 2010), David Newett (2011 to 2014) and Brett Henderson (2015 to 2016) as a Bendigo Pioneer coach.
Pioneers’ talent manager Steve Sharp said Coburn ticked all the boxes the Pioneers were looking for in their new coach.
“We’re very happy to have Rick as our new coach after what has been an exhaustive process,” Sharp said.
“He has a really good understanding of the region that goes back to when he was a Bendigo Pioneer back in 1993.
“He comes from the heartland of our region at Nyah, has had a good cross-section of experience through playing and coaching, including seven years at South Bendigo.
“People don’t coach at a football club for seven years if they’re not a good operator or a quality person, so he ticks those boxes.
“He has great relationship-building skills and also has a massive understanding of the academy program because he has basically been the person who has set the template for across all Victoria.
“And ke knows probably 90 per cent of the kids on our list already, so he’s a great fit for us.”
The Pioneers are back into pre-season training ahead of the 2017 season. Coburn starts on December 12.