Energy Safe Vic Country Under 19 coach Damian Sexton will celebrate his tenth season at the helm this weekend, when his squad prepares to take on VAFA in the Under 19 Challenge Cup at MARS Stadium on July 8. Mark Koelmeyer reports.
Working with a host of talented young players since taking up the role in 2009, Sexton said his passion to continue to coach Vic Country for the past decade has come from the people he has met.
“Footy’s been good to me,” he said.
“When I was a player, I met a lot of good people and was coached by some very good coaches and now I want to try and give a bit back.
“When I got the opportunity to coach Vic Country 10 years ago, I jumped at it and created a network of experienced blokes as assistant’s right across Victoria.
“I’ve been able to create relationships with some really good people who know footy, and are driven by the same thing in giving back as much as you can to see people succeed.”
Giving back is certainly something Sexton has put an emphasis on when it comes to coaching.
As a country boy from Yarrawonga, he knows the work that many people do behind the scenes to ensure country football can thrive, and he goes out of his way to ensure his players know who they are representing when they pull on the big-V jumper.
“My biggest philosophy that I have with these boys that run out on Sunday is that you’re representing those volunteers back at country footy clubs,” he said.
“Whether it’s the bloke cooking the barbeque or filling the water bottles, the lady in the canteen making the sandwiches, the gate person on the day, at the end of the day they don’t get the recognition that each individual player gets.
“They’re not only playing for themselves but they’re playing for all those people back at those clubs and we can’t lose sight that without those people, these players wouldn’t be getting these opportunities.”
Throughout his ten-year stint with Vic Country, Sexton had the privilege of coaching a number of good players and while naming a few, he reiterates the fact that all the men he has coached over the journey have been quality players.
“Honestly every year, the 22 players are all great players,” he said.
“I don’t really like mentioning names but from the Bendigo league in the early days there was a boy called Leigh Coleman who played a couple of years.
“Tom Atkins from Geelong, he was a good player as well as Matt Taberner who’s at Fremantle now.”
When it comes to this year’s squad, Sexton is excited about the talent he has at his disposal, but knows that if they are to beat the VAFA, they must play as a team.
“The side looks really good. The biggest thing for these boys is to not go out and play for themselves.
“VAFA is a very good team; they’ve gotten stronger and stronger as we’ve gone along but at the end of the day, we have to be the team that’s gelled together the best and wants to do the most for each other.”
The Under 19 Challenge Cup match will kick off at 11.30am before the highly anticipated 2018 AFL Victoria Community Cup clash between Vic Country and Vic Metro commences at 2pm.
Both representative matches will be Live Streamed at the AFL Victoria website aflvic.com.au.