By Afl South East Media
The AFL South East Coach Support and Mentor Program continues to grow in momentum with inspirational Phillip Island coach Beau Vernon attracting more than 160 coaches to Casey Fields recently.
Vernon was the guest speaker at the third session of the program for 2019, offering advice to coaches from juniors, seniors and women’s leagues from right across the AFL South East region.
Vernon was a star player for Leongatha, a two-time best and fairest winner, before a freak football accident in 2012 saw him become a quadriplegic at the age of 23.
He spent seven months in rehabilitation before finding solace in the grand art of coaching. He has since secured senior premierships at both Leongatha and Phillip Island to become one of the most respected figures in the game.
AFLSE Coach Support and Mentor Program Coordinator Brent Clinnick said Vernon’s participation was a real highlight of the program, now in its third year. The program aims to brings coaches together to share their knowledge and experiences with one another in a cohesive and enjoyable environment.
“I’m not surprised by how many coaches turned up because Beau is such a well-respected figure in the game,” Clinnick said.
“He has such a unique story to tell and I’m sure everyone in attendance will take something positive away from the experience. It’s been a real highlight to have Beau on board and to add his touch to what we have built in the first three years of the program.”
Clinnick said the program – which had mostly concentrated on senior coaching in its first two years – was creating a great support mechanism and learning experience for coaches from right across the region.
He was also excited by the introduction of a junior component to the program, which will work with over 50 junior clubs to implement overarching coaching strategies and aim to achieve consistency of coaching throughout the various age groups.
Clinnick has been working closely with AFL Victoria Football Development Managers (FDMs), Cam Roberts, Dean Rice and Stuart Clark, and advisor Paddy Swayn, to ensure the program hits the ground running.
“It’s very exciting to be entering the junior space, and to provide assistance and guidance to coaches at that very important development stage,” Clinnick said.
“It’s not an easy job coaching, and sometimes coaching the juniors can be just as challenging as taking on a role in the senior ranks.”
AFL South East has allocated Coach Support Officers (CSOs) to every junior club, to act as mentors and provide direction, support and advice in regard to coaching programs.
The mentor project specifically targets the Under 11-14 age groups and includes a focus on club strategy, training and matchday. The program will be coordinated by Clinnick who will work closely with newly appointed CSOs Shaun Beattie, Dean Langford, Jarrod Flanigan and Darren Roe.
The CSOs will also form part of the new Monitoring Coaching Behaviour Program (MCBP) that will monitor and watch FDJFL and SEJ coaches on match-days. They will be looking for, and reinforcing, positive coaching behaviours and how the actions of coaches impact on teams, club and community. They will also assess and nominate coaches for Coach of the Month Awards.