Mat aims to get plenty done in new role at Pioneers.

AS a member of the new-look coaching panel for the Bendigo Pioneers Football Club’s under-18 team, Mat Dunham has taken another big step in his football journey.

A lot of what Mat learnt with this year’s first intake of the AFL Central Victoria CoachAFL Coaching Academy is already being used as the Pioneers build-up for the 2020 NAB League action.

“There are a lot of challenges in coaching, especially in my new role at the Pioneers,” Dunham said.

As an assistant to Damian Truslove, Dunham will play a crucial role as forward line coach. As a teenager, Dunham played for Oakleigh Chargers in the TAC Cup under-18s competition, now NAB League. Next year will be Dunham’s ninth in coaching.

A discussion with David Meade at a Pioneers fitness testing session sparked Dunham’s interest in applying for a role with the club.

“We have had between 50 and 60 players training with the under-18s squad, but there’s more than 300 involved across various age groups with the Pioneers,” said Dunham.

He tackled coaching after a playing career that included time with Coburg Tigers in the VFL, and also at Koo Wee Rup and Lockington Bamawm United.

At LBU, Dunham coached the Cats’ under-17s to three grand final appearances. Other coaching stints have been head coach of the under-14s at the AFL CV Junior Academy and Bendigo Junior Football League; head coach for Central Victoria Gold under-15s at the Mildura Regional Carnival. Dunham was also assistant coach for the Richmond NGA Pioneers under-15s at the V/Line Cup.

“The most rewarding aspect of coaching is seeing the development of players.

“There’s 22 different individuals in a team, all with a unique set of skills.

“Being able to have all buy-in to the game plan and stick at it is what makes coaching so challenging, but also satisfying.”

Dunham said AFLCV’s CoachAFL Academy has played a huge part.

“Being with like-minded coaches and on a pathway was fantastic,” he said of being in this year’s Academy intake.

“Building a network with other coaches and gaining and sharing ideas is really important.”

Football development manager for AFL Central Victoria, Daniel Reid said the Coaching Academy and Junior Academy provided various avenues to assist all coaches, no matter whether they be first-year or going into their 20th.

“The Academy has given Mat the ability to seek opportunities for both formal and informal learning to help the growth of his coaching,” Reid said.

“Mat’s commitment to learn and develop as a coach has led to an opportunity to be involved with the NAB League program.”

The Coaching Academy aims to provide a genuine pathway to improvement for our coaches in a positive and supportive environment, where they can continue to learn and be challenged. We are looking for coaches who have a genuine desire to learn and develop their coaching philosophies and strategies. In 2020 there will be limited spots in the Academy.

Please use the link below for your application for the 2020 AFL Central Victoria CoachAFL Coaching Academy. The Coaching Academy Committee will be in touch with all applicants early February. 


Article by Nathan Dole