Ahead of the 2018 AFL Victoria Community Football Awards gala dinner tomorrow night, four terrific coaches remain in the running for Gerard FitzGerald Senior Coach of the Year. Mark Koelmeyer reports.
The prestigious award is one of a number of coaching accolades that will be handed out at the event, with winners also to be crowned in the NAB AFL Auskick Coach of the Year, Junior Coach of the Year, Youth Coach of the Year, Female Coach of the Year and Umpire Coach of the Year categories.
See below for a brief summary of the Gerard FitzGerald Coach of the Year Award nominees:
Craig Kellow- Nathalia FNC (Murray Football League)
Craig Kellow can be described as a ‘players coach’ and an all-round club man with a commitment to bettering not only his players but everyone involved with Nathalia FNC.
While being an excellent coach in terms of tactics and game style (evident by three straight premierships) Craig also uses GPS data, video footage and stats to provide feedback to both the team and individuals.
While he is an expert on the field, Craig’s best work is done off the field in his role leading and developing others. In addition to making himself available for his players to contact him at any time, Craig also manages to make time to help those around the club, such as umpiring junior games, inviting U17s to train with the senior group, participating in joint training with the women’s team and helping to develop other coaches.
Will Bell- Great Western FNC (Mininera & District Football League)
In just his first season as the senior head coach of Great Western FNC, Will Bell’s influence has been undeniable, with growth and excellence a key emphasis in his coaching.
Will’s passion for the game is the driving force behind his commitment to creating a professional, family-oriented culture, that has seen a significant growth in numbers at the club.
Beginning with the team, Will created an ‘open door’ policy to allow players to feel comfortable coming to him to discuss matters at any time throughout the week.
He also set up individual skills development programs for each player and has created a training environment that motivates players to attend training, seeing numbers jump from 15-20 per week at training to 35-40.
His greatest achievement this year however, may be in the form of the Great Western Auskick Centre, establishing an environment that has seen more kids and families become part of the club, while they continue to teach and further develop the skills of young players.
James House- North Heidelberg FC (Northern Football Netball League)
James has brought a level of professionalism to North Heidelberg with his vast knowledge of the game being the key component of their on field success in 2018.
Using professional type training regimes which include using behind the goals footage, game/training footage and 360 feedback, James has been able to get the best out of each player.
He adjusts training on a week to week basis, depending on the previous and upcoming game, allowing for maximum efficiency.
The success of his training and coaching methods are already evident, taking the team from a 1-4 record and ninth place on the ladder, to finishing second and cementing a finals spot, the first time a newly promoted team has ever made finals.
His commitment to coaching is that of a professional coach and thus the club can ensure a winning, successful culture for years to come.
Nicholas Pekin- Harrow/Balmoral FNC (Horsham District Football Netball League)
Two-time Vic Country representative and multiple premiership player Nick Pekin has been able to turn a successful playing career, into a coaching career that has seen him bring the same level of excellence to the game.
Appointed at the end of last season, Pekin has been able to develop a professional culture within the playing group, using many of the same learnings he developed when he was a player.
He is committed to ensuring all players contribute on game day and has specific training techniques to ensure the team remains fresh and healthy throughout the season.
In addition to his coaching role, Nick is also a mentor for younger players, embracing the responsibility of being a role model and providing younger players with the knowledge and support they need to better themselves as players and people.