A former AFL coach says a passion for country football and a desire to help emerging coaches are the backbones of his new venture which will include Hampden league club Cobden.
Brendan McCartney, who led Western Bulldogs for three seasons and is fresh from a five-year stint in various roles at Melbourne, will work closely with Bombers coach Adam Courtney.
McCartney, who has started playercoach.com.au with a business partner, said he would visit Cobden during its pre-season and attend a handful of games in 2020.
"Where the coach mentoring grew some legs is I started in country footy myself in the mid-90s, at Ocean Grove in 1993, and I think back now and we really didn't have a lot of support," he told The Standard.
"You really had to make it up as you went. Some flourish and others don't win enough games and they just leave coaching behind.
"I did some work with Colac. Kane Leerson, the coach at Colac, asked if I would set up their coaching program and they wanted a one-club philosophy so I did a couple of years with them in and around my work at Melbourne footy club.
"That is where the idea grew and it's a service for clubs to identify what they need and build it together."
McCartney said Courtney, who is preparing for his second season at the Bombers' helm, knew what areas he wanted to improve.
"He was switched on and when he first reached out and we had a coffee and I asked him questions about what he wanted to club to be and how he wanted to coach, he was pretty clear," he said.
"He's got a good handle on coaching and we'll help him grow little skill sets, whether it's having a difficult conversation with a player or linking with all aspects of the club."
McCartney said he was aware "every club has its own needs".
"Say for Cobden, the key is they connect with the community and it becomes a club which develops its own players and retains them," he said. "There is a rich history there, it's a football town and there's a positive, strong connection with the community and the town which we understand."
Cobden is one of three clubs currently signed up to McCartney's new mentoring program. Apollo Bay and Ocean Grove are the others.
"I am really looking forward to going to games in the country, going to spend the weekend down there and get to know the community," McCartney said.
"It's never left me, it's always something I've been passionate about.
"We want to be linked to a club, so you're at a game and people know who you are and that helps. The exciting thing for us is it's such a rich football history, the Hampden league and the Western District."
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