PORT Fairy is close to Luke and Donald McDonald's heart.
The footy-mad family have been travelling to the seaside village since Luke, North Melbourne's vice-captain, can remember.
Initially it was at the Gardens Caravan Park. Then Donald, who also played for the Arden Street-based club and worked in a variety of off-field roles, bought a holiday house near the famous East Beach strip.
It's been a regular trip down the Princes Highway ever since and the leisure links are set in stone. But now, the duo hope they can strengthen their business ties to the region.
McDonald Management - a joint venture between the father-son combo - is currently in the space of events and player management.
"I've been going down to Port Fairy since I was born," Luke told The Standard.
I actually played a game for Port Fairy in the under 18s at one point and I just love coming down there. I know there's a lot of passionate footy people down there - supporters and players.- Luke McDonald
"I actually played a game for Port Fairy in the under 18s at one point and I just love coming down there. I know there's a lot of passionate footy people down there - supporters and players.
"I'd love to see us build some strong links with business and players down there, in managing them. It's certainly an area - we know the people down there and the type of people they are."
He said the south-west had a wealth of underrated talent, pointing to Princetown export Ben Cunnington - a teammate of his - as an example.
The 126-game defender said he and Donald had spent years talking about venturing into business together and felt he'd found a career to pursue post-football.
"Growing up in the footy family, Mum and Dad have always spoken to me about preparing myself for when I'm done with footy," Luke said.
"We've been using the contacts we have through footy and starting with our corporate suite at the MCG and Dad has his player manager license and I think that's something I could see myself sliding into post footy."
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Luke said a close relationship with his father made business easier.
"I sort of said to him when we first started: 'mate, if we keep talking about it you'll be 75 and it'll be too late' so that's why we got rolling," he said.
"It's good having a good relationship with my dad and family in general because we can be completely honest with each other.
"If he's thinking I need to do a bit more work or he thinks I need to do more we're very quick to point that out."
Donald said he felt both he and Luke were in a good position to pass on learnings to players after years in the game.
"Even in the western district, you might have a young footballer or athlete who is ambitious and it doesn't have to be the top level - they might just want to be the best they can be - I think we're in a good position to help," he said.
"Luke has the athlete side of it and I have that relationship because I've been a parent. I've been a parent as well and I've been through the journey with Luke. Sometimes it's really hard because as a parent, you can't go and speak to a coach.
"I think if they can speak to someone who has the interests of their child at heart, I think it helps to have those kinds of conversations. I think we've got an edge and advantage in that space. It's a competitive marketplace and we've got to have something that's a point of difference."
Donald - who follows Port Fairy's Hampden league fortunes - hoped the Seagulls were on the up in 2022. "I reckon there's some great examples in the Hampden league that've looked at the bigger picture and got in and developed their kids," he said.
"I think Port has a great opportunity to do that. It's difficult because we don't have the access to the kids in Warrnambool but you only have to look at Koroit and what Adam Dowie is doing at North Warrnambool. There are great examples for Port Fairy to follow."
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